Mobile devices are there for your every need. Whether you're using a tablet or smartphone, apps come in handy for things like communicating with those in your circle, mobile banking and using social media. Without apps, humans wouldn't interact the way we do today.
However, with the vast selection of apps out there, it's essential to protect yourself from the unsecured ones. Cybercriminals evolve with technology. With cyber-breaches increasing by 273% in the first quarter of 2020, staying one step ahead is crucial.
Unsecure apps will have weak security protocols and measures and a lack of clarity around how they use your data. Instead, use apps that allow you to update, protect yourself and define how they use your information.
Whether you need to use unsecured apps or only stick to secure ones, you can take several steps you can always take to boost your privacy and protection.
You may have seen the notes on your app updates that tell you the most recent update was just for bugs and fixes. These changes are necessary for protecting your information. Make sure you have the latest versions of all your apps. If an app doesn't have regular updates, it's likely not secure.
No matter what apps you're using, you should always have the strongest passwords possible. Numbers, symbols and capital letters will make it harder for intruders to access your accounts and data. However, many secure apps now integrate biometrics like thumbprints or facial identification, too. Use two-factor authentication when you can — it adds several layers of protection.
It's tempting to skip over the terms and conditions of an app. User licensing agreements can be long and confusing. However, the fine print is where you'll find what an app does with your information. You can provide or deny an app permission to use your name, data, camera and microphone, depending on your preferences. Read the terms to see exactly how the app handles this information.
Public networks are an area of concern when you're using apps. Often, public Wi-Fi isn't secure and anyone can access it, meaning advanced cybercriminals can use the network to access your private information. The same idea applies to open Bluetooth networks, too. Instead, you can use a virtual private network — it will help you stay secure while using any apps.
The apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store are safe bets when looking for new platforms. Developers should be using the best security precautions when creating an app that will end up in these stores. However, be wary of apps from other sources and those that seem suspicious. If it looks off, your best bet is to avoid it.
Then, you can download apps that help with security and privacy. Developers design these apps to add extra layers of protection for your data. It's a step in the right direction for staying on top of the changing trends.
You can also research the app and company. What are their safety and privacy protocols? How secure are their networks? If there's evidence that the company mishandles user data, act accordingly.
If you're still unsure whether an app is safe, consult the reviews for people's thoughts and opinions. You'll be able to see how well the app holds up against public consensus.
For instance, the rise of streaming apps has people questioning which ones to download. The big companies like Netflix and Hulu are safe bets, but concerns about illegal streaming apps are also on the rise. Smaller companies like Kodi and Pluto TV are not illegal, but this topic serves as a testament to researching and reading the reviews. See what others say, then proceed.
Further, you can limit the permissions of an app once you download it. You don't have to grant camera, photo and microphone access if you don't want to. You can also go into your settings to turn off location services to stop sharing your position with the apps.
The path to protecting yourself from unsecured apps has several steps. Once you follow them, you take control of your data and information. If you're using an unsecured app, you can use these tips to protect yourself. If your app is already secure, though, you should still stay abreast of best practices. You will benefit from the highest protection possible.
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