7 security tips to keep people and apps from stealing your data

7 security tips to keep people and apps from stealing your data

Can you really trust the apps on your phone? Researchers discovered that over 1,000 apps that “bent the rules” have horned in on your privacy, even when you told them not to. These apps that gathered precise geolocation data and phone identifiers without the owners’ knowledge. Pretty creepy stuff, especially considering all the private and personal stuff you have on your phone — names, dates, password and credit card information, the location of everywhere you go. Photos of the people in your life.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell at face value if an app is tracking you, even when you say stop, and no protection is foolproof in today’s world of ever-evolving technology. An app that behaves well today could turn into a bad actor tomorrow if the company behind the app is sold, changes its direction or winds up compromised because of a flaw.

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We reached out to data privacy experts for their top tips to protect your personal data when using apps. Here are their seven suggestions.

Use a password manager

The strongest passwords are random strings of characters. A series of letters, numbers and symbols in no particular order is less likely to be found in the dictionary and harder for a computer to crack with brute force. The downside is that these complex passwords are much harder to remember.

This is where a password manager app comes in handy. Password managers keep all your passwords in one encrypted and password-protected app. They also generate and remember strong passwords. While apps like Google Chrome and Samsung’s proprietary phone app will offer to save passwords for you, security experts always go to the password manager.

It’s also best to avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. If one account is compromised in a data breach, all the accounts are compromised. With a password manager, each one of your accounts can have a different, complex and hard-to-crack password. Some will even generate passwords for you.

Joe Baker, an IT Systems Administrator at Anderson Technologies, recommends LastPass (download for iOS or Android).

Use a VPN on public Wi-Fi

If you’re going to get on a public Wi-Fi network while on your phone instead of using your mobile data, experts suggest using a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN can keep your data from being snooped on by other people lurking on the same public network. They can also mask your data transmissions, avoid filtering and censorship on the internet and allow you to access a wider variety of content around the world.

For our purposes, it can shield you from having to get on a free public network that others can use to gain access to your phone. When looking for a provider, it’s important to research the company to find out if it’s well-known and trustworthy. The Apple App Store and the Google Play Store have dozens of VPN apps that are free, but some have questionable practices, so take care.

Regardless of how frequently you plan to use a VPN, it’s important to read through the service agreement so you know what data might be collected and where it will be stored. See CNET’s guide to the best VPNs.

Be mindful of app permissions

One tip that almost all of the experts mentioned was double checking which permissions the app asks for. You should also ask yourself whether it makes sense for an app to ask for certain permissions. An app asking for access to data that isn’t relevant to its function is a major warning sign.

“[If] you’re downloading a simple app for a pocket calculator for instance and the app is requesting access to your contact list and location,” said Stephen Hart, CEO of Cardswitcher. “Why would a calculator need to see your contact list and location? Requests like that should ring some alarm bells.”

In addition to paying attention to permissions that you grant to an app, it’s also important to monitor how your phone behaves after you download it. Shlomie Liberow, a technical program manager and security guru at HackerOne, said that drastic changes in your device’s battery life are another red flag, since malicious apps can constantly run in the background.

“If after installing an app, you notice your battery life decreasing faster than usual, that may be a tell-tale sign that the app is up to no good and is likely operating in the background,” Liberow said.

Last December, digital security firm Sophos released a list of almost two dozen appsthat were found guilty of click fraud resulting in data overages and dramatically draining the device’s battery life.

Here’s how you can keep your app permissions in check.

Research the app or company

While you can’t tell at face value if an app has sinister motives, a quick Google search can supply more information. The experts suggested searching the name of the app and the phrase “data scandal” or “scam.” Hart said the results should tell you if the company has experienced any recent privacy or data leaks……Read more>>

Source:- cnet

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