Where you download apps from and how you use them plays a critical role in keeping your mobile phone secure.
Malicious apps will try to steal personal information from your phone and could expose your device and data to malware.
Malicious apps can pave the way for attacks ranging from unwanted pop-up ads to more serious efforts to steal personal and financial data, or lock your files and demand a ransom for the key that allows you to regain access to them.
Many apps include advertising which, although legitimate, can be used to promote other malicious apps, or collect large amounts of data that can be exploited to carry out cybercrime.
You should closely review each app before downloading it for indications it may be fake. Some fake apps may be identified by poor grammar or spelling, or by the use of names very similar to those of recognised brands.
If you are unsure about the legitimacy of an app, contact the business the app purports to be from using contact details sourced from official websites or materials.
- Only install apps from official stores such as Apple's App Store or Google Play for Android phones or tablets.
- Avoid installing apps from links in emails, social media, text messages and websites that look suspicious.
- Use your device’s automatic update feature to install new applications and operating system updates as soon as they are available.
- Read the fine print about how an app will protect your personal data—some apps collect information such as your location, contacts, and other sensitive details like credentials. At the end of the day, if you are not comfortable with how your data is protected, don’t use the app!
- Make sure you review and manage permissions for each app you download. On an iOS device go to 'Settings > Privacy'. On an Android device go to 'Application Manager' and follow the prompts.
- Do not remove hardware restrictions—known as ‘rooting’ on Android phones and ‘jailbreaking’ on Apple phones—to install unapproved third party apps. This makes your phone more vulnerable to malware as it reduces the in-built security protection.
- Uninstall apps when you no longer need them.
Stay Smart Online also has information on protecting your information online.