There are many types of apps: apps for social media, music, banking and games – the list goes on. Many apps are free and some attract a charge, depending on the features you want.
What are the risks when using apps?
It is safe to assume that apps present few risks, especially if you are careful and take a few precautions.
Collection of information
When installing an app, it will ask you if it needs access to information on your device, for example your contacts list or address book. The app might also suggest you turn on location services so it can plot where you are. Choose carefully whether you want to share this information. If you're not sure, do some research and check out the reviews.
Some apps will not install or work if you deny access to this information, which most apps use for internal marketing purposes and to improve app functions. You may need to think carefully about whether you want to allow this access.
Some, but not all, apps have very good data security. Because it is impossible to tell what level of security an app has until a problem emerges, it would be wise to provide only the minimum amount of information about yourself that you need to.
What can I do about the risks?
Follow these easy tips and avoid unnecessary risks.
Know before you install
Always read the installation messages for apps, especially permissions – this will help you assess any likely risk.
- Reading reviews of the app can give you an idea of any issues that others have had from installation. Most app sites have user reviews on the same page as the download button.
- When downloading apps, it is safer to download them from reputable sources, such as the Apple or Google Play stores.
- Only download apps if you feel comfortable providing the kinds of information and access you are asked for.
Spyware and malware
There are some apps – malware, adware and spyware apps – that are malicious and attempt to collect information from your device. They are more common on Android devices, but can be added to ‘jailbroken’ Apple devices too. They can track your location, browsing interests, social media use and other activities and pass this information on to unauthorised people.