If you have a smartphone or tablet, you definitely have a collection of apps installed for your convenience and entertainment. An app or “application” is a useful and specific program that helps us perform a task. Apps are great. The right app can make life easier and a lot more fun, however, the wrong app can ruin your electronic device and steal your personal information without your knowledge.
In our ongoing effort to keep our members' data and personal information safe, Wasatch Peaks wants to make you aware of some of the hidden dangers of third-party apps. These are the types of apps that are downloaded by the consumer from a website other than Google Play (for Android users) and the Apple App Store (for iPhone/iPad users). Some are free and some are available for purchase.
Simply put, not all apps are helpful; some are downright dangerous. The dangers may include malware, viruses, and worms. What does that mean? It means you may be thinking you just scored an awesome free app, when in reality, you may have opened the door to a device-scrambling intruder who could gain access to your personal and sensitive data, location, messages, etc.
As tempting as a free app may be, the problem is that many are ad-filled counterfeits of popular apps or knock-offs that could pose a threat to the safety of your personal information. Not all third-party apps are malicious, but some are, and we need to know how to protect ourselves from hackers who have become very savvy at gaining access to our data.
How can you stay safe?
- Be careful with free apps. Many are free because the app is supported by an ad-network. These are networks that take and share information with others. Free isn’t free at all, you could end up paying for the app with your information.
- Download a security app from a reputable developer. Do your research and find one that will protect you from potential cyber-threats and malware.
- Look closely at the app permissions. If you don’t feel comfortable with the developer’s reputation or the permissions the app is requesting, trust yourself and don’t download it.
“When installing apps it is a good rule to avoid downloading them from anywhere that is not the App Store or Google Play, this can be tricky because oftentimes you will select a link that you think would send you the reputable app store, when in reality, it can send you to a completely different and often nefarious website. Also remember when purchasing from Google Play that each app is not fully vetted by google, so continue to use caution when selecting what to install on your device.” -Jed Weller, IT Department, Wasatch Peaks Credit Union
We often warn children about Stranger Danger, and the same caution should be used by smartphone and tablet users when dealing with Stranger, or third-party apps. Your best defense against the dangers of third-party apps is knowing how to avoid the bad ones.
At Wasatch Peaks, we’re staying vigilant against cyber-threats and breaches in security. Protecting your personal information is our priority and we are continually monitoring the safety of our members’ information.
We encourage you to be aware of malicious third-party apps and do your best to avoid them. If you have any questions about how you can keep your information safe, give us a call at 801.627.8700.
By Joanna Bushell
Director of Public Relation