When It Comes to Mobile Privacy, Think Before You Tap
What would your smart phone be without apps? Mobile programs make it easier for mobile device users to do everything from online banking to texting friends to planning a meal. However, apps can also open up a world of trouble if they're created with the intention of mining personal data or spreading viruses. Before you click on any app, keep these mobile privacy tips in mind.
The apps that are most likely to get you in trouble are those made by individual users rather than large companies. While there are many "homemade" apps that are safe to use, there are plenty that were created for nefarious purposes. Before downloading and installing any of these small-time apps, take a moment to read reviews from users. If the app has a low rating and has received complaints from many people, then you should probably skip it. Also, be wary of apps that have no reviews at all - this may mean the creator is aggressively monitoring the review page and removing anything that would discourage you from installing the app.
Know Your TOS
Even the most popular apps can cause privacy problems. Just because a program is managed by a major corporation like Google or Facebook doesn't mean it won't abuse the personal information that comprises your mobile identity. Before you install any app, make sure you carefully read over the terms of service (TOS) so you fully understand how an application is planning on using your personal information. If you can't find the TOS or don't understand the wording, get in touch with the company that manufactured the app for a more thorough explanation.
If you find that an app's TOS aren't up to snuff, but still want to use the program, then you must be careful about what information you submit. For example, it may be best to use a second mobile number when using apps with poor TOS guidelines, so that if they do give your information to a third party, you can simply dispose of the number and replace it.
Apps are the lifeblood of your smart phone, but if you don't use them wisely, they could end up being a detriment. The next time you visit your device's app store, remember to think before you tap!