Protect against harmful apps

By: |
May 2, 2016 5:40 AM

Your phone and personal data are vulnerable to attack by apps from unknown sources, says Kaspersky Lab

Cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab has discovered that consumers are installing apps on their devices, without being aware of the potential consequences. A shocking 63% of consumers neglect to read the license agreement carefully before installing a new app on their phone and one-in-five (20%) never read messages when installing apps; they simply go through the motions of clicking ‘next’ and ‘agree’, without understanding what they could be signing up to.

In another finding, Kaspersky Lab has discovered that in the past year, over one-in-four young Internet users have lost their devices (17%) or had their devices stolen (13%), with a third losing access to their online accounts, or suffering from a loss of data privacy as a result. More on it later, first a look at the dangers emerging from harmful apps.

Kaspersky Lab’s ‘Are you cyber savvy?’ quiz, which questioned 18,507 consumers about their online habits, found that an alarming number of consumers are leaving their privacy—and the data on their phones—exposed to cyber threats because they are not installing apps on their devices safely. When users neglect to read license agreements or messages during the app install process, they do not know what they are agreeing to. Some apps can affect user privacy, prompt the installation of other apps, or even change the OS settings of a device completely legally, because the user has ‘agreed’ to it during the install process.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab said, “Internet users are entrusting their devices with sensitive information about themselves and others—such as contacts, private messaging etc, yet they are failing to ensure that their information is entirely safe. This can turn their devices into their ‘digital frenemies’. Because they are not taking precautions when they install apps, many consumers are granting apps permission to intrude on their private lives and make changes to their devices, right from the moment of installation.

The survey also discovered that just under half (43%) of users could be at risk from the apps on their mobile device, because they are not ‘cyber-savvy’ enough to limit app permissions when installing apps. When app permissions are left unchecked, it is possible—and legal—for apps to access the personal and private data on mobile devices.

In the other survey, Kaspersky Lab discovered that young users lose devices more frequently than older adults. Whilst one-in-seven users (14%) overall has experienced the loss or theft of a device, this figure rises to 26% among users under the age of 24. Of the 16 to 24 year-olds affected, 83% said they suffered negative consequences afterwards, slightly higher than the overall average of 77%. A third (32%) of 16-24 year olds have had their online accounts hacked as a result..

When affected by loss, to protect themselves, only four-in-ten blocked the device through their mobile operator or reported the incident to the police, and only 29% wiped the device or tried to track it down using ‘find my device’ software (15%).

Evgeny Guryanov, product manager at Kaspersky Lab, said, “Device loss or theft is not just an inconvenience but a breach of your very identity and privacy. It is imperative that it is password protected, that all sensitive data is encrypted, and that mobile security apps are up to date.”

Protect your mobile life

To protect themselves consumers should:
Only download apps from trusted sources
Select the apps you wish to install on your device wisely
Read the license agreement carefully during the installation process
Read the list of permissions an app is requesting carefully. Do not simply click ‘next’ during installation, without checking what you are agreeing to
Use a cybersecurity solution that will protect your device from cyberthreats

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