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7 security tips that prevent people and apps from stealing your information


There are ways to protect your information on your phone.

Angela Lang / CNET

Can you really trust the apps on your phone? Researchers found that over 1,000 apps that "exaggerated the rules" violated your privacy, even though you told them not to. These apps collected accurate geolocation data and phone IDs without owner knowledge. Pretty scary stuff, especially considering all the personal and personal things you have on your phone – name, data, password and credit card information, the place you go. Photos of the people in your life.

Unfortunately, there is no way to detect face-to-face if an app detects you, even if you say "stop" and in today's world no protection is foolproof technology. An app that behaves well today may become a bad actor tomorrow if the company behind the app is sold, changes direction, or is compromised due to an error .

We've asked privacy experts for their most important tips on how to protect your personal information when using apps. Here are the seven suggestions:

Use a password manager.

The safest passwords are random strings. It is less likely that a series of letters, numbers, and symbols will be found in a particular order in the dictionary, and it is harder for a computer to crack with brute force. The disadvantage is that these complex passwords are much harder to remember.

This is a password manager app . Password managers store all your passwords in an encrypted and password protected app. They also generate secure passwords and store them. While apps like Google Chrome and Samsung's proprietary phone app offer you password storage, security experts always turn to the password manager.

It is also best to use the same password for multiple accounts. If an account is compromised due to a data breach, all accounts are compromised. With a password manager, each of your accounts can have a different, complex and hard-to-crack password. Some even generate passwords for you.

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

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James Martin / CNET

Using a VPN on public Wi-Fi networks

If you want to use your phone to join a public Wi-Fi network instead of using your mobile data, experts recommend using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) , A VPN can prevent your data from being snooped by other people lurking in the same public network. You can also mask your data transfers, avoid filtering and censorship on the Internet, and give you access to a wider variety of content around the world.

For our purposes, you can protect yourself from getting into a free public network that lets other users access your phone. When looking for a provider, it's important to examine the company to see if it's known and trusted. The Apple App Store and the Google Play Store have dozens of free VPN apps, but some are questionable.

Regardless of how often you plan to use a VPN, it's important to read the service agreement so you know which data may be collected and where it's stored. See CNET's Guide to the Best VPNs .

Note the app permissions.

One tip that almost all experts mentioned was checking the permissions that the app asks for. You should also ask yourself if it makes sense for an app to ask for specific permissions. An app that asks for access to data that is not relevant to its function is an important warning sign.

"[If] For example, you download a simple app for a calculator, and the app requests access to your contact list and location," said Stephen Hart, CEO of Cardswitcher. "Why should a calculator need to see your contact list and location, and inquiries like these should ring some alarm bells."

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Graphic by Pixabay

In addition to the permissions you give to an app, it's also important to monitor your phone's behavior after downloading. Shlomie Liberow, technical program manager and security guru at HackerOne, said that drastic changes in the battery life of your device are another red flag as malicious apps can run constantly in the background.

"If, after installing an app, you find that battery life is decreasing faster than usual, it may indicate that the app is not working anymore and is probably running in the background," Liberow said.

In December of last year, digital security firm Sophos released a list of nearly two dozen apps that detected click fraud, causing data breaches and dramatically reducing the device's battery life.

How to Keep Your App Permissions in Check .

Researching the app or business

While you can not tell at first glance if an app contains scary images, a quick Google search can provide more information. The experts suggested looking for the name of the app and the term "data scandal" or "fraud". According to Hart, the results should shed light on recent data protection or data leakage issues at the company.

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"This search should also tell you if personal data breaches are common to this company and to this company, if they have experienced any, how they responded to them," said Hart. "If the company has been hit several times and has not done anything to fix the problem, avoid the app – this indicates that the issue is not taken seriously."

Baker said it's wise to avoid an app if it's the only one that a developer has produced, or if the developer is responsible for other seedy apps.

Limit social media exposure.

Facebook's Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal put the popular social network in hot water. But even people who have freed themselves from the fallout of Facebook's siren call (or have not created a profile at all) may still be at risk of infringement of privacy . If you appear in a friend's or family member's account, you are still visible online . After these accounts are observed, companies can create a "shadow profile" that describes a person's likes, dislikes, political leanings, religious beliefs, and more.

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Many Android apps circumvent the privacy policy


It is advisable to limit the amount of information you share on social media, regardless of what the site requires in your profile. The more information you share, the more data is available to create ads for you . Fill in only the minimum required amount of information. The more information is compromised in case of a data breach.

"Smartphone apps are generally more" thorough "in terms of targeted advertising, and some programs that access your phone's microphone (presumably for more targeted purposes) are even worrying," said Bobby Kittleberger, Head of Legal Software Help, to CNET.

Keep the software up to date.

Walsh says it's critical to your data security to spend time updating your smartphone's operating system. With the updates, you're always one step ahead of hackers and the latest exploits they spread on the Internet. Hart suggested adjusting your phone's settings to automatically update.

"Think of software updates like vaccinations for your smartphone," Hart said. "The ways in which criminals are hacking your phone and stealing your information are constantly evolving, so the ways in which we protect our smartphones need to evolve."

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You can download apps from the site, but it's safer to install them only from the Google Play Store or App Store.

Angela Lang / CNET

Download only apps from Google and Apple stores.

Not all apps on the App Store or Google Play Store are 100% trustworthy. However, experts recommend that you only download from the official stores and not from the sideload app.

"The apps available on these platforms have been reviewed to ensure that they conform to standard quality of data protection, and you need to create a dedicated privacy policy that specifies how they protect your information." Hart told CNET.

According to Walsh, downloading an app from unofficial or insecure websites increases the risk of ransomware, malware, spyware and Trojans infecting your device. He says, in the worst case, the hacker can take complete control of your device.

In addition to avoiding apps that are the only ones a developer produces, Baker prompts users to check how long an app is available and how long it takes. Take a look at the reviews before using them download.

"A natural selection of test reports should contain different ratings," he said. "Some fraudulent apps also show fraudulent checks."

You should question irregular speech patterns, high ratings with no description or explanation. Baker should also check whether an app was published on a third-party website.

"Long-form ratings from peers will be the best and most reliable source of information here," said Baker.

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