Malicious apps have started showing up in official app stores either the Google Play store or the Apple App Store. These tips will help you see the danger signs from a mile away.
Our phones have become part and parcel of our identity and that makes gives them easier access to malicious actors via corrupted apps or genuine apps with bad intentions. When downloaded, the malicious app gets access to your most sensitive details – personal and financial info, photos and even conversations.
What’s scary is that even legitimate apps get bought by scrupulous companies who inject malicious code that allows tracking of users without their knowledge when they scroll through the app. The human behaviour is then copied to bots to generate fake traffic and steal advertisers revenue. These weird activities end up frustrating the users since the apps either drain the battery faster or deplete your data at a faster rate even when idle. Most Chinese apps exhibit this click injection and click flooding malpractices including CM Locker, Clean Master, Cheetah Keyboard, Security Master, CM launcher 3D, CM File Manager, Battery Doctor and Kika Keyboard.
As a smartphone user, you need to be really cautious about the apps you download:
Use trustworthy app stores
Credible app stores like the Google Play Store or Apples App Store or Amazon will guarantee you some sort of safety even though some app companies have gamed them to avoid detection for malicious practices.
Take heed of the reviews the app has
Read what other users are saying about the app before downloading it. Some reviewers warn other users about the scam app but people still go ahead and download them. Worth also noting is apps that get great reviews from inauthentic users. Malicious app developers pay users to write these reviews.
Check the star ratings the app has gotten
Malicious apps will have a lower rating something like one or one half to two stars. The said apps will tend to also have bad reviews written about them. Be very wary when you also see apps that have unsynchronized star ratings and reviews. For example, apps that have been rated 5 stars but have terrible reviews. Stay away from those.
Run away from apps that are wildly over-permissioned
Carefully read through the permissions the app requires before downloading it. You can get them at the apps official page in the Play Store or App Store. I’d they are asking for way too many permissions than what the app requires, steer clear. Weather apps that require SMS and contact permissions are no-nono. Be cautious of apps that require to run in the background too either to launch other apps or control phone functions like messaging and control the keyboard. If they don’t require all these permissions to functions, run away from them.
Verify if its the real app
Malicious developers have mimicked names of genuine apps and games in the search algorithm so that if you’re searching for an app their malicious app comes first and you download it without a second thought. If you’re searching for a popular app and one with the wrong logo or a similar name and app icon but with few reviews or few star ratings, stay away from downloading it. If you go through the app’s description you will also find misspelt words or text that doesn’t make sense, don’t download it.
Stay away from apps that ask for additional unnecessary permissions
Some apps after downloading will ask you to grant them device admin access. You should really be careful before giving them this permission since after they’re granted, the apps make it hard to uninstall after they start exhibiting weird activities.
Remove apps that don’t do what they are supposed to do
Once you download an app and it starts showing strange behaviour when you open it and not what you downloaded it for, remove it immediately. Some of the apps seem to disappear from your home screen or app drawer after downloading. Watch out for them and if it doesn’t do its basic functions, delete it as soon as possible.
If they start draining the battery or deplete your bundles while not even running, delete them. Malicious apps can be made to run so that they use the phones resources including storage or battery or data to show ads even when not being used. Some of them even mine for cryptocurrency without the users’ knowledge. Just go to Settings> Battery> Battery Usage to see which apps are ruining your battery life.
With malicious apps getting their way into official app stores, it’s paramount for you to read between the lines to stay safe. Hopefully, these tips help you see the danger signs before harm comes your way.
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