It’s been said that there are over a million different apps for the smartphone. Well, however many may exist, know that not all of them are passing security tests with flying colors.
You may already be a user of at least several of the 25 most downloaded apps And what’s so special about the top 25? 18 of them flunked a security test that was given by McAfee Labs™ this past January. And they flunked the test four months after their developers had been notified of these vulnerabilities.
App creators’ first priority is to produce the next winning app before their competitors do. Hence, how secure it is doesn’t top the priority list, and that’s why there’s such a pervasive problem with security in the mobile app world.
Because these apps failed to set up secure connections, this opens the door for cybercriminals to snatch your personal information such as credit card numbers and passwords. And this is growing because this weakness in apps is so well known and it’s pretty easy for cybercriminals to purchase toolkits that help them infect smartphones via these vulnerable apps.
The technique is called a “man in the middle” attack. The “man” stands between you and the hacker, seizing your personal information. The “man” may capture your usernames and passwords for social media accounts and so much more—enough to open up a credit card account in your name and then max it out (guess who will get the bills); and enough to commit a lot of damage by manipulating your Facebook account.
So What Can You Do?
Here’s some tips to help you protect yourself from these unsecure apps:
- Before purchasing an app, get familiar with its security features—read reviews and check what permissions the app is asking access to. You don’t want to end up with an app that accesses way more information about you than necessary for what you want the app for in the first place.
- Download only from reputable app stores, not third-party vendors. This will reduce your chance of downloading a malicious app.
- Don’t have your apps set to auto login. Even though it may be a pain when you want to access Facebook, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Make sure you use different passwords for each of your apps. Sorry, I know that’s a hassle, but that’s what you must do. And make sure your password is long and strong.
Here’s to staying safe on our mobile devices.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Safety Expert to Intel Security. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.