Are All Downloads on Mobile App Stores Safe?

Mobile apps let us play, teach us, give us social media or music, and more. No wonder there were more than 142 billion downloads in 2022! Going to Google or Apple’s mobile stores to find the app you want feels safe, but even these heavy hitters can’t guarantee you’re downloading something secure.

Google and Apple do their best, but they are vetting many thousands of new apps submitted monthly. The vast majority of their offerings aren’t a threat, but some malicious apps can make it through.

What do malicious apps do?

Apps downloaded from mobile stores are typically more secure than your Web activity. On an app, you’re within a contained system, whereas on the Web, you click through various links and visit websites which could have viruses or malware.

Still, a malicious app can infect your smartphone and cause several issues:

  • Ad fraud. The app runs in the background and sends ad clicks to different websites. This runs down your battery and slows your phone activity.
  • Data theft. If you give a malicious app permission to cross the app/data divide, it could lead to information being stolen.
  • Browser hacking. The app may open website browsers that put you at risk of sharing sensitive data.
  • Apps access all your information (SMS, camera, contacts) and take control of your device.

Keep your mobile phone safe

When looking to download a mobile app, do your research. Look at the ratings and how many downloads it has had. Application reviews can also help you verify the credibility of the app. Check the logo and the name of the creator, too. You don’t want to install something from Microsaft instead of Microsoft.

Keep your mobile device’s operating system current. Installing the manufacturer’s updates can help cut your vulnerabilities.

Also, take a moment to review the permissions for that new app. There’s no reason a calculator app needs access to your entire address book and camera. If the app asks for too much access, it can be a good idea to delete it and look for another option.

Be wary if you decide to download an app directly from a website other than the app store. This is a greater risk. Plus, know that illegally pirating software or media is a real risk for viruses.

Also, keep an eye out for common signs of a virus on your phone such as:

  • other apps taking longer than usual to open or install;
  • phone battery running down faster than normal;
  • your monthly data usage increasing;
  • your contacts receiving odd messages from you via email, text, or social media.

Worried you may have a virus on your device? We can check and see. We can also help backup your data and, if necessary, wipe a compromised phone. Call us today at 508-617-1310.