Tips for Safely Using Phone and Tablet Apps
We all have countless apps on our phones and other devices. From social media to games and everything in between, apps are a huge part of our lives. But did you know that every time you download a new app, you may be permitting the app to collect personal information about you?
This may include locations, data on how and when you use your phone, browsing history and even photos. Many times you “agree” to this collection of data when you download an app for the first time, but there may be ways to choose what an app is allowed to collect or not. We’re highlighting some tips for keeping your information safe.
Check app permissions
Before downloading an app, look at the list of permissions it asks for. If you’re downloading a photo editing app, it would make sense that you need to allow access to your photo library. However, if you’re looking for a calculator and see that it requests permission to view photos on your phone, that should be a red flag.
If you’re uncomfortable with the permissions for a particular app, don’t download it. Or, once you have it on your phone, access the settings to see what you can turn off.
Create a unique password
If an app requires you to log in, be sure to set a unique password that you don’t use for other accounts. This is often how scammers gain access to your bank and other personal accounts. They first hack an app like a game or shopping app that may have less security. Then, they try to use your login credentials on other sites like a bank or email account to access even more of your personal information. Unique usernames are not as important as unique passwords, but use varying credentials anytime you can.
Beware of public wifi
We all want to limit the cost of data on our phone plans as much as possible, but not at the expense of our personal information. Only access public wifi if it’s a network you recognize. For example, the network of a coffee shop or restaurant you’re eating at.
Still, before accepting their terms, be sure to see what kind of information you’re giving the provider access to. Never use a wifi network that you’re not familiar with, because you never know who is on the other end of the connection. If you regularly need wifi while you’re out to work on a tablet or laptop, consider adding a personal hotspot to your data plan. That way you can use your own private wifi connection instead of risking your personal information being accessed.
Limit social media access
Many apps – games especially – will request that you log in “through” Facebook to link the two. Oftentimes they boast sharing with friends or linking to your network as some benefit. However, you may be giving the app permission to see all of your posts, pictures and even friends’ information, too.
If it’s possible, create a separate login for apps outside of your social media accounts. This is important because even after you delete the app from your phone, they may still access your information. In fact, you can go to the permission settings within your social media accounts to see what apps are linked to disconnect them.
Keep in mind that nothing is foolproof, and the only way to truly protect your private information is to limit where it is shared. It’s important to keep all of your apps up-to-date when enhancements are released. Still, remember to check the new permissions you are granting with each update an app releases.