Lots of people are unaware of the sorts of things that go off online. Many people are aware of malware or viruses, but few people realize that their data is being sold all the time. Few people realize that their spam email comes from the fact that when they sign up for some online services, their email address is sold to a marketing company. This sort of information trading is illegal but is hard (very hard) to track. It is now just as prevalent on mobile phones, and mobile apps are one of the ways people are doing it.
Why do you think some apps are free?
Some of them are free, even though they cost a lot of money to produce. Many apps with nefarious intentions will pump a lot of money into their app so that it does not arouse any form of suspicion. This does not mean that low quality apps are also created by people who want to steal your information; it just means that you cannot trust an app simply because it looks well produced.
All free apps are created for nefarious means
This is not true for all free apps, as there are some that are created for reasons other than stealing your information. Some apps are free so that the programmer/company behind the app may install adverts on the app. Other programmers/companies will produce free apps with the hope that you will upgrade your service from the free version to the paid version.
Other apps are produced by people who simply wish to prove themselves as programmers and so offer the app for free with the hope it will land them more work in the future. Other apps are open source which means the programming community has worked together to create and improve an app (or piece of software).
How do apps steal your information?
It is difficult to go into details about such as complex issue, but there are a few ways. They may ask you to sign up to accounts where you give out personal information that is then sold to a marketing group.
They may ask you to take part in financial transactions such as buying items. They may steal your credit or debit card information and sell it to a company overseas that will steal money from your account. The company that created the app is not likely to steal the information as they would most likely be caught, but it is very difficult to prove that they sold the information to another company.
They may allow you to undergo PayPal transactions at which point they steal your password. They may also ask that you connect your social media profile to the app or your email address, at which point they steal your information and gain access to your accounts. Getting your email address and password is a very powerful tool that they can use to access hundreds of other websites from which they steal your information or money. Think about how many websites give you a password reset by emailing you a new one.
The app may also be used for market research, where they monitor your spending habits and then sell that information. This is still illegal, as you need to sign a release in order for people to monitor you in such a fashion. They may even use this information and with your email address in order to send you spam messages that are more targeted to you.
How can you tell if an app shares your personal data?
You really cannot tell, since it is illegal and none of the app producers are advertising their naughty behavior. What you need to do is remain skeptical of mobile phone apps. Do not instantly trust an app because it is on iTunes or Google Play, because there have been apps on there that have security flaws and malware embedded in them.
If an app asks for your bank details in order to connect the app to your bank, then ask yourself if you really need that app. Also, if the app is free then question what benefit’s the app producer gets from the app. If the app does not seem to have a means of making much money for itself, then what is going to stop them from collecting the bank details of hundreds of people, and then stealing their money in one big orgy of criminal activity?
This is a Guest Post :
Bio: Kate Funk is a passionate blogger and online tutor at tutortop.com.