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How Secure are Mobile Apps from the App Store?

Smartphone applications are in high demand from both a consumer and a business perspective, so it stands to reason that these ecosystems are large in scope, encompassing millions of apps on both the Google Play and Apple App stores. Have you ever wondered how these companies ensure that the apps found on their stores are secure and legitimate?

The Current State of App Store Security

You’ll be happy to know that Google and Apple take measures to protect their users from malware, but it is admittedly not a perfect system, as there is a very real chance that malicious apps can find homes on the storefronts. This is dangerous because most people tend to trust the apps they find on the app stores, and criminals will use these presumptions to steal data, deploy malware, or spy on individuals.

Google Play has a system which effectively limits the amount of dangerous apps on the platform, but despite this, it still has the highest record for troublesome software available for download. The Apple App store does have fewer issues here, but note the word “fewer,” as this doesn’t mean that there are no problems to be found at all.

That said, even if most apps are safe to download from app stores, there will always be outliers that skirt the system to do evil.

App Stores Don’t Guarantee Safety or Security, Unfortunately

App stores generally have very strict guidelines for what they allow on their storefronts, preventing most malicious apps from finding their new homes on their distribution platforms. Unfortunately, there are always cases—even unlikely ones—where malicious entities are able to distribute their malware to unsuspecting users.

What Are the Potential Problems?

If you think you might have downloaded a malicious application, then you could see issues related to these problems:

  • Ad fraud: Ads are nothing new—after all, developers need to make money somehow—but fraudulent ads could run in the background and reroute your clicks to various websites, thus eating up your battery and using your phone’s resources.
  • Browser hacking: Malicious apps can also take over your web browser and make it open websites that could leave you vulnerable to data theft or fraudulent promotions.
  • Data theft: Some apps are installed for the sole purpose of stealing your data, and if you’re not careful with the permissions you grant, you could wind up having a serious problem on your hands.

What Do You Do?

There are ways you can fight back against malicious apps. Here are just a few of them:

  • Don’t jailbreak or sideload apps onto your phone: Downloading apps from other parts of the Internet and not from your app store (a term known as sideloading) on a jailbroken device gives malicious apps more control over what they can do with your device. Just avoid doing this at all costs.
  • Update your operating system: Like all other software you might use, for work or otherwise, you’ll want to keep your operating systems updated to ensure you have potential vulnerabilities shored up.
  • Do your research: Reading up on the reviews for any applications you are potentially planning to download could save you a lot of trouble. Furthermore, only download from trusted sources if you can help it.

S3 Technologies can help your business maximize security on all fronts, mobile included. To learn more, call us today at (505)242-5683.