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Shazam - Mobile Apps: How to Use Them Safely

Mar 29, 2012

What steps can users take to minimize risk when it comes to using mobile device apps? Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure you actually need an app - Every time you download an app, you open yourself to potential vulnerabilities. Only download those apps you deem necessary with the understanding of the risks involved.
  • Be careful about which app store you use - If you decide to download an app, be aware of which app store you use. App stores have different standards for which apps they will offer to the public. Some app stores require apps to be put through rigorous testing first, while other stores accept all apps.
  • Do research and check the source - If you are downloading an app, it is wise to do research on the application itself, the sponsoring company, and/or the developer's website. Be cautious about downloading new applications, as they may contain coding bugs that have not yet been addressed. Most app markets post user reviews on the apps they offer. Look for apps that have a high number of reviews. Take time to read the app's privacy policy. Check to see if the app needs access to and will report your position via GPS, and whether it will expose your private and personal information to other users or any potential buyer of that data.
  • Password-protect your mobile device - Your mobile device should be protected with a strong password. Make sure that the passwords are not stored in your device. Do not enable the apps to remember your password, and set your device to auto-lock after a few minutes.
  • Learn how to remotely wipe your mobile device - If your device has a remote wipe feature, you should enable it. If the device is lost or stolen, this will allow you to remotely remove all of your personal data and restore it to its factory settings.
  • Do not use public Wi-Fi when performing financial transactions - Most mobile devices can use both wireless Internet and a mobile provider's 3G or 4G network. Use only 3G or 4G networks for any secure transactions, such as banking.
  • Be alert to changes in your mobile device's performance - If you download an app and your device starts performing differently (for example: responding slowly to commands or draining it's battery faster), this could be a sign that malicious code is present on the device.
  • Update apps - Update all apps when notified.
  • Disable Bluetooth settings on your mobile device whenever it is not in use - If left on, someone could potentially pair to your device and obtain information to take over your device.