Remember the old saying back in 2009, “There’s an app for that.”? Well, it’s still true today. There’s even an app for coming up with a witty “There’s an app for that” phrase or joke. It’s called App for That. Mobile apps of every description have made our digital lives easier, more fun, and far more social.
Google Play Store is constantly updated with newly developed apps every day, most of which are safe, harmless, or maybe a bit spammy, but there are also some dangerous apps that get through Google’s malicious apps screening process. These can be packed with malware, bloatware, and even bots that can unlock mobile phones for any devious purpose.
So today we’re going to take a look at 5 of the most dangerous mobile apps to watch out for and how you can protect your data, privacy, and online safety while still enjoying the benefits of mobile apps.
#1. Phone ‘Cleaner’ Apps & Utilities
These types of apps have many names like phone cleaners, optimizers, junk cleaners, speed boosters, trash cleaners, and anti-virus apps but they all fall into the same category: absolute garbage. Nowadays, smartphones are powerful computers that do not need to be ‘cleaned’ or optimized the way that older phones may have.
Any utility apps promising security, speed optimization, or battery-saving properties should be avoided. They are frivolous at best and harmful at worst, especially because smartphone software cannot achieve any of those specifications to any measurable degree.
#2. Weather & Scanner Apps
How often has the weather report actually been accurate? Hardly ever, in my experience. However, that doesn’t stop people from checking the weather on mobile apps, and sometimes it can be a big mistake.
Weather and scanner apps have unprecedented access to users’ location services, collecting sensitive location information and personally identifiable data.
#3. Mobile Casino Apps
There are serious cybersecurity, fraud, and privacy risks when it comes to gambling at online casinos or playing on mobile casino apps. After all, you’re giving away financial information on the internet, so you must ensure you’re working with a trusted provider.
Steer clear of any unlicensed and unregulated online casinos when gambling online. These operators do not have any player protections, engage in unfair business practices, and shouldn’t be trusted with your hard-earned money.
Safety is only guaranteed while enjoying mobile casinos if you make sure to play with reputable providers which you can find at sites. Keep yourself and your money secure by reading user comments on forums and established review sites.
#4. Photo Filter/Editor & Emoji Apps
Photo editors, fancy new filters, and millions of more emoji choices — it’s a dream come true for incessant social media users. These types of apps have grown in popularity as Facebook and Instagram stories have gradually replaced traditional feed posts.
Mobile apps in this category are nothing more than glorified adware but can sometimes “feature” deadly malware as an added bonus.
#5. VPN Apps
VPNs, or virtual private networks, are software clients that allow users to protect their anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. Many people use these apps when browsing on their mobile devices to access blocked content, protect their location and banking information, and shield themselves from cyberattacks when using public Wi-Fi.
Unfortunately, sometimes the safeguard is worse than the risk. Some VPN mobile apps have been found to contain critical vulnerabilities that could open the door to hackers accessing users’ personal data, including credit card details, photos, and private chats.
Watch out for excessive permissions
Many dangerous apps will start by asking users for permissions that could lead to risky behavior such as access to the device’s camera, microphone, address book, as well as the ability to read (or even send) text messages. The more permissions you allow an app to have on your device, the greater the chance of your device being hacked.
Protecting yourself from dangerous mobile apps, however, is something users can do for themselves. Doing a bit of research and following a few easy tips can save you from a huge headache down the road.
- Watch out for apps asking for unnecessary or excessive permissions
- Steer clear of anti-virus, cleaner, or booster apps, in general
- Stick with trusted providers whenever possible
- Always research an app and read reviews before downloading
Protect yourself from dangerous apps
While Google continues to blacklist and remove thousands of risky apps from its Play Store, there will always be a thousand more to take their places. Despite Google’s efforts, there continue to be thousands of dangerous apps available for download that contain malware, adware, spyware and bloatware.
The best way to protect yourself is to be vigilant when downloading new programs and be sure to reject and/or uninstall any apps that request intrusive permissions.