5 Types of Mobile Apps You Should Stop Installing
With millions of apps available on smartphones, it’s no wonder that not all of them are beneficial. In fact, many mobile apps exist solely to attack your device or steal your personal information.
We’ve looked at the specific apps you should avoid. Don’t Install These 10 Popular Android Apps Don’t Install These 10 Popular Android Apps These Android apps are extremely popular, but they also compromise your security and privacy. If you have them installed, you’ll want to uninstall them after reading this. Read More Let’s discuss some broad categories of apps that you should avoid or be careful with.
These apply especially to Android users, as Google Play has less oversight than the App Store, but the topic is still relevant to iPhone users.
1. Flashlight apps
People have used their smartphones as emergency flashlights for a long time. For a while, you needed an app to turn your camera or screen flash to full power. But that was years ago, and now Android and iOS have flashlights built into the operating system. Despite this, people continue to use ad-filled flashlight apps that offer nothing useful. Scam Play Store Apps to Avoid Scam Play Store Apps to Avoid For every amazing app you can find on Android, there’s a cheap knockoff waiting to waste your time and steal your money. Read more about integrated solutions.
Search “flash” in the Google Play Store and you will see dozens of flashlight apps with millions of downloads. The most popular ones have tons of ads and require invasive permissions. What are Android permissions and why should you care? What are Android permissions and why should you care? Do you ever install Android apps without thinking twice? Here’s everything you need to know about Android app permissions, how they’ve changed, and how it affects you. Read More Of course, developers use them to sell your data to advertisers so they can make more money.
Ignore flashlight apps and just use the functionality built into your phone. On Android, you’ll find this by dragging down twice from the top of the screen to open the quick access panel. iPhone users can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access Control Center and launch the flashlight there.
2. Keyboard apps
Replacing Your Mobile Keyboard 4 Best Free and Open Source Android Keyboards 4 Best Free and Open Source Android Keyboards Looking for an open source keyboard for your Android device? These are the best options available. Read More privacy issue..
Remember that your keyboard app can see everything you type, including passwords, personal messages to loved ones, and your financial information. But it’s not just that keyboards always want to improve. To do this, they upload data about their specific writing style to their companies’ servers.
And when keyboard developers suffer a data breach, anything you typed could be at stake. Users of the ai.type Android keyboard had their personal data exposed when the company failed to protect the database server with a password, as ZDNet reported. And SwiftKey, which is owned by Microsoft, once suggested personal email addresses and other predictions for the wrong users as reported by a Reddit user.
Fortunately, iOS doesn’t allow third-party keyboards to access the Internet unless you enable the Full Access option. But if you do this (or if you’re using Android), you have to be very careful about which keyboard app you use. If a giant like Microsoft might have a privacy issue with its keyboard, there’s no telling what an unnamed developer might do with information from it..
3. Free games
Keep in mind that free games often have hidden costs.
The mobile gaming boom has given way to thousands of “freemium” games that cost nothing to start, but earn a payday in other ways. Many apps are packed with in-app purchases Why You’ll Never Stop Seeing Ads and IAPs in Mobile Apps Why You’ll Never Stop Seeing Ads and IAPs in Mobile Apps Ads and in-app purchases in mobile apps and games can be really annoying. Unfortunately, they won’t be leaving anytime soon. This is why. Read More Unsurprisingly, most of them are also full of invasive permissions.
Popular free games often ask for access to your contact list, location, camera, and more sensitive permissions. 5 Smartphone App Permissions You Need to Check Today 5 Smartphone App Permissions You Need to Check Today Android and iOS permissions can be abused in a variety of ways. Don’t let your phone leak data to advertisers. Here’s how to take control of app permissions. Read More While there are “legitimate” reasons for this, like sending invites to your friends, many games use them for something else.
The New York Times reported in late 2017 that hundreds of games on Google Play and the App Store included software known as Alfonso. This is a tool used by advertisers that uses your phone’s microphone to pick up the sounds of the TV shows you’re watching. In fact, the software can match locations you visit to track information like the ad that ultimately prompted you to buy a new car.
Is the privilege of playing the latest freemium time waster worth sharing this detailed information with advertisers?
4. Antivirus apps
I never thought about privacy when I granted sweep permissions for antivirus software on my PCs: incl. access to my email client, program registration and web browser. All I thought about was safety.
We should be asking questions about the technology we use every day.
You’d be surprised what security-focused apps can do with what they know about you.
We have discussed before if you need antivirus apps for your smartphone. iPhone Antivirus Apps Are Basically Useless Can iPhones Get Viruses? Here are the facts. Can iPhones get viruses? Here are the facts Most people think that iPhones can’t get viruses, but is it true? Let’s take a look at the cold hard facts. Read More On Android, you don’t really need an antivirus app unless the device is rooted, or you regularly download apps from outside of Google Play.
But it’s another question mobile antivirus apps ask with your data. It’s no secret that despite their purpose as security applications, antivirus programs collect a huge amount of data. Is your antivirus tracking it? Would you be surprised by what you send? Is your antivirus tracking it? You’d be surprised what you send Read more about your computer and browsing. Why would they do anything different on your phone?
If you have an antivirus app on your device, even if it’s not doing anything for your security, it’s probably still collecting your information. Why not uninstall them to save system resources, reclaim storage space, and stop letting antivirus companies collect your data?
5. Loyalty App Store
Heads up: I just found out someone hacked my debit card. The bank says they did it through the Starbucks app. Sev cases of that here.
— Valerie (@valonfox) September 6, 2016
You are paying for discounts and gifts by providing your shopping habits and storing payment details is not wise.
It seems like every restaurant, department store, and other business provides an app that they want you to download today. While these may reward you with personalized offers and convenient ways to pay, they also come with new security risks. We’ve talked before about how loyalty cards compromise your privacy. How Loyalty Card Apps Compromise. How loyalty cards compromise your privacy. Loyalty cards are everywhere. You give companies you regularly use your personal information, and they give you discounts, bonuses or even gifts. But what are you really trading for that free cup of coffee? Read More
Many chain restaurant apps allow you to add your credit card so you can easily top up your balance once it drops. This becomes an issue when, in the case of Starbucks, user information on the app is vulnerable, as CNN reported in 2014. A year later, hackers broke into people’s Starbucks apps and used their linked cards. to steal money, once again covered by CNN..
The more places you add your payment information, the larger the attack surface. And companies are happy to learn even more about you when you have their apps installed.
Many applications betray your privacy every day
We’ve covered five big categories of apps that have no problem invading your privacy, but there are plenty more. Apps that offer basic customization like wallpapers are often full of invasive permissions and ads. Even weather apps can log your IP address and other unnecessary information. And any application could transmit or store passwords insecurely.
And that’s not even considering health and fitness apps like Fitbit. These track how well you sleep at night, how much exercise you get, your location, and more. That’s a lot of information that companies can’t necessarily be trusted to store securely.
There is no way to avoid dangerous applications with 100% certainty. But you have to be careful with the above categories for sure. And for other apps, always remember to review the permissions and privacy policies before using them. It’s clear that you can’t assume that any company is looking out for your best interest, and most “free” apps make you pay in other ways.
For more information on this topic, see how location tracking can violate your privacy. 4 Examples of How Smartphone Location Tracking Can Violate Your Privacy. 4 Examples of How Smartphone Location Tracking Can Violate Your Privacy. and security. Read more .