Protect Your Smartphone from Dangerous App Permissions
According to a study by the UC Berkeley Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department in February, about 33% of Android apps request more permissions than they actually need. Does this make you raise an eyebrow? The truth this, we may actually be unknowingly giving out more to the world than we think simply by accepting app permissions without a second look or thought. Some apps can request up to 150 different types of permissions and that makes me wonder, does it actually need all this to function? If an app that is supposed to serve as an image editor starts requesting for SMS control privileges, what do you think it needs it for? And yet we ignorantly click the accept button just so we can use the so called service the app provides regardless of what might be going on in the background.
Reportedly, about 83% of Android users show a little concern to app permissions when installing a new app and about 42% cannot even tell what these permissions mean. If you want to keep your private information private, can you be guaranteed that none of it has been swiftly sent to a third party when you have such a free-mind attitude to app permissions? Of course we can’t just generalize that all apps are harmful as there are still reputable developers out there who play by the rules. But let’s not forget that the app market is also filled with cyber criminals and phishes who can hide exploitative codes, malwares, viruses, spywares, and many other exploitative codes behind such permissions so as to suck out lucrative informative from users.
Not so long ago, the mobile social network, Path, was apprehended uploading users’ contacts from their address books to Path’s servers without prior permission from users. What happened? Path apologized and promised to wipe their servers off this information. Could it have been that they weren’t aware of such codes that sent unpermitted information from users’ phones or …? Who knows! But imagine where this is not Path. That tells us that those simple applications that take few seconds to install in order to give us one ‘wow’ factor on the other can also be devised to rip us off.
It doesn’t matter which app market the app is coming from or whether it is a single permission request or hundreds, it is high time we take control of what these tiny applications can do on our device. Remember that some apps may even be requesting permission for a certain function while in disguise asking to do another thing on your device. What do you think happened those periods your device hangs unnecessarily or shows the loading icon when you didn’t give any command? I am not totally saying that it’s an app doing some unwanted job. But hey, how can you tell otherwise?
How to Protect Your Smartphone from Dangerous App Permissions
The best approach towards this matter is one you can start doing from today; do your due diligence – conduct a short research. Yes, they seem captivating; those tiny icons that come with the app and the over-hyped description of what it is supposed to be doing. But hey, we have to look beyond this to see exactly the stuff the app is made of. Read reviews from previous users and comments made on the app. What about the developer? Is it from a new developer or has the person gained some reputation in the market? Are the permissions necessary for what the app is supposed to do? Remember that a Screen Grabber app probably has nothing to do with your contact list or SMS protocol, and if it is asking for such an unrelated privilege without any clear reason or relatedness, do not install the app. Here are the steps to the background check you must conduct on any app before deciding whether to install it or not.
Check the Developer’s Reputation
It is also a wise step to check the reputation of the developer. Some developers are established with a full business site while others barely have blogs. This will help you to understand the quality and safety measures they had put to their business – with the exception of open source developers who may have a site on Google Code (though not verified by Google). However having a website does not necessarily mean that the developer is good or bad, but I think it will help you understand how serious the business is on satisfying customers.
And lastly, App updates may contain changes to permissions you may not know of. And this is why you must treat each update as if you are installing a fresh app on your phone. Read the permissions thoroughly and if there is any change that doesn’t suit your needs, its either you use the previous version or quit using the app entirely. It has to be all about the safety of your phone and the data on it – until you become a victim (which I hope you will never be) you may never understand the importance of controlling these apps.