Smartphones have become an extension of their users – a powerful tool giving us access to millions of apps with which we manage almost every single aspect of our lives. From communicating, cooking, exercising and shopping to navigating, banking, and yes – even for entertainment with our favorite mobile games, smartphones are very much a part of our lives. But with the power, convenience and pleasure these devices are putting at our fingertips, there’s as much risk as there is reward.
In a world where personal data has become the most valuable commodity, cybersecurity is becoming a crucial part of how we interact with our mobile devices. This is not surprising, since our phones host a lot of sensitive information about us, including location data and our contacts. According to Haystack.mobi, a staggering 70 percent of mobile phone apps retrieve users’ personal information and give it to third parties, such as ad networks and analytics services, without the users’ consent.
Although we will never be able to keep our information 100% private (no app is ever really free, is it?), there are steps you can take to protect yourself from these privacy violations and improve your mobile security. Here are our top mobile safety tips to help you be more vigilant about how you interact with apps, including when it comes to mobile game security should you wish to check out some of the best Indian online casinos.
Beware of fake apps
The consequences of downloading and installing fake apps, also known as “doppelgangers”, could be dire. Unsuspecting Android users downloaded doppelganger apps from Google Play approximately 4.2 million times since September last year, which included mobile games. Without even knowing it, these victims were exposed to all kinds of privacy violations. A demonstration done in a Washington D.C. coffee shop by ABC News’ Gio Benitez and cybersecurity expert James Lyne, revealed the level of control hackers could potentially gain via the malware found in these fake apps. Getting five volunteers to interact with infected phones, Benitez and Lyne could retrieve text messages, take photos of the users and steal passwords. With this type of malware, hackers can even access credit cards.
What makes these fake apps so dangerous is that, most of the time, users are completely unaware that all of this is happening in the background or that the app they have installed is fake. So how do you protect yourself from fake apps and malicious mobile games?
Improve your mobile game security by adhering to the following
- Only download apps by trusted developers.
- Check whether the developers are the app’s real, legitimate creators.
- Check the reviews and comments left by other users. For example, if the app seems to bombard users with ads, or not live up to its promises, it may be a warning sign.
Install a trusted antivirus app
To protect yourself from hackers, having a password for your phone is not enough. Once the hacker has gained access through the malware, you are exposed. Something as ordinary as a purchase in a mobile game could put sensitive personal information, such as your credit card details, in the hands of criminals.
There are many mobile security solutions available to protect you from this. The trick, once again, is to avoid downloading a fake security app. Mobile security software companies such as Avast, AVG, Kaspersky, Norton Security and Bitdefender are all well known and trusted. Just make sure that before you download and install a seemingly trusted app, the app is in fact the real version created by the proper developer.
Do a routine check of your connected apps
To see which apps are connected to your primary accounts, follow these steps
- On Facebook, go to the settings page and click on the “Apps and websites” tab.
- On Google, go to your account page, and click on “Apps with account access”.
- On Twitter, go to the Apps page under “Settings and privacy.”
It is advisable to do a routine check of these connected apps and perform a regular “clean up” by removing the apps you no longer use.
Pay attention to app permissions
Apps need permissions in order to work, but more often than not, mobile users don’t worry about or even understand the app permissions they agree to, which opens up endless doors for scammers. By inadvertently agreeing to invasive permissions, users could enable cyber criminals to deploy malware under the camouflage of “free” apps. This allows criminals to take control of users’ mobile devices and exploit their personal information, or use their device for malicious purposes such as stealing WiFi passwords and hacking into networks.
There are plenty of ways app permissions are misused. For example, a seemingly innocent battery monitoring app can use permission to identify currently running apps and processes to steal information from other apps, or even “kill” security apps. Similarly, a malicious gaming app can use permission to connect to the Internet, to communicate with their command centers or download additional malware – or use permission to control the phone’s vibration function to stop vibrations alerting users to sensitive verification text messages so they can intercept them before the user gets notified.
Before you grant permissions to any new app, make sure you trust the app. Also review which permissions the app requires and see if they correspond to the app’s capabilities and functions. If you believe you have downloaded a malicious app, delete the app, restore your phone to its factory settings and change all of your passwords.
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