Do you know that you could be unknowingly sharing personal information with people you don’t even know? Your mobile device can reveal a lot about you: where you live, your family and friends, where you eat, things you love etc.

Studies show that more than 70% of apps installed on a smartphone report our personal information to third parties.

When we install an app, it often asks us for permission before getting access to personal information. But once you have installed the app, it tracks your movements, and actions and report to a third party, who then may choose to sell, use or broadcast the information.

Most times, we are unaware of the risks we are putting ourselves in by installing and allowing apps permissions to devices. Here are the top ways that apps compromise your privacy and what you can do about it:

1. Cookies

Cookies are small text files that are stored in your web browser while you are accessing the internet. These tiny files track and store your surfing activities to personalize your surfing experience. They use your IP address to identify you and customize your browsing experience. For instance, you may notice that advertisements try to sell you products related to your search.

On one hand, having a customized browsing experience is great, however, on the other hand, you may feel like someone is watching your activities online. Marketers use retargeting to server potential customers ads after they leave their website. Retargeting involves using cookies to show users ads based on their previous engagement.

What You Can Do

The good news is that you can block cookies to prevent them from tracking you. Blocking cookies will prevent third-party advertisers from putting cookies on your website. This way, third parties are not able to track or personalize your browsing.

2. Sharing Location

Some apps will frequently need to know your location. When you share your location, an app you have installed may grab it and share it with an advertiser. The advertiser can then share, profile or sell the location data to third parties

What You Can Do

Android or IOS apps must get permission before accessing your location. The only way to prevent location sharing is to avoid using the app, some apps require that you share your location for them to work properly.

3. Ads

Adds can be very risky while it comes to your privacy. Ads can be risky in two ways. One is that when you click on an ad, the ad will use unique device identifiers to track your browsing behavior online. The advertiser will then sell your info to third parties for remarketing campaigns.

Another way ads track you is that a developer inserts an ad code into an app. Hackers can then use the ad to hack into your device and get the information they need

What You Can Do

You can choose apps with no ads, though they are a bit expensive. You can also block third-party cookies from your browser to avoid pop-up ads

4. Unencrypted Data

Some apps in your phone may collect your personal information such as email address, names, bank account information, etc and leave it unencrypted. Your data then becomes vulnerable as unencrypted data can be viewed by anyone who would want to online. Data encryption involves putting data in a different form such that anyone who wants to have access has to provide an access code to access it.

What You Can Do

Since you cannot tell whether an app will encrypt your data online or not, the best way is to only install reliable and trustworthy apps. Avoid apps that you don’t know, looks shady or suspicious

5. Single Sign-On

Single Sign-On is a technology that allows you to use a single username and password to sign in to different applications. Google, Facebook, and Twitter all have SSO technologies. They allow for easier and faster access by tapping a “Sign in with Facebook” or “Sign in with Twitter” button. But using the same username and password could make it easier for hackers to get into your accounts.

What You Can Do

Avoid using single sign-on. If you have to, make sure you entirely trust the application you are signing on to

To be on the safe side, be diligent and aware of the apps and their activities. Be cautious when an app asks for permission to access information on your smart device. Don’t just click, pause and decide whether allowing an app to access your device makes sense or is useful.

 

Categories: Privacy