Data Privacy: 5 Security Tips To Stop Apps From Stealing Your Data

The recent Facebook data leak scandal sent shockwaves across the US about how vulnerable our information is, online. We’ve also heard of several other data leaks over the years, affecting millions of people. One of the most common ways personal data is harvested is through APPS that don’t abide by the data privacy laws. With the massive surge in the use of smartphones, many apps get exposed as malware or data miners (used for collecting and selling data to third parties).

It’s time we took the security of our data into our own hands. Here are five tips from privacy experts to get you started!

1. Strengthen Your Password Using A Password Manager App

Creating a strong password is a fundamental step to protecting your data and keeping hackers at bay. You can insert letters, numbers, and symbols into your existing or new password and still have a weak password. The strongest passwords comprise of random strings of unpredictable characters that cannot be guessed, found in a dictionary or easily cracked by a computer. On the downside, complex passwords are extremely difficult to remember. That is why you should have a password manager app to help you to save each of your passwords in a single encrypted and protected app, designed for password management.

2. Switch Onto VPN Before Using Public Wi-Fi: Ensure Data Privacy

The more Public Wi-Fi expands the higher number of devices at risk of being hacked. To protect your data, do not forget to switch on the Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your device when using any public Wi-Fi. VPNs also have data transmission masking, filtering and censorship capabilities giving you the freedom to browse tons of content securely. Nonetheless, beware of VPN apps because some are not trustworthy and would trap you into a deep hole. Always research VPN companies before downloading their Apps.


3. App Permissions: Mobile Data Privacy

Can you remember the last time you download an app and carefully double checked all the permissions the app demanded you to accept? Ray Walsh is a digital privacy expert, and he advised, “Always check every permission during installation and make sure you revoke as many permissions as possible….” It’s obvious that an app can’t be asking for your private information for nothing. So, take that as a red flag. Also, take a look at the way an already installed app is behaving on your device, especially regarding a decrease in battery life. Malicious apps work in the background “to repeatedly upload user data such as contacts from the phone,” says Shlomie Liberow, a HackerOne security guru.


4. Update Your Device Software Regularly


It’s evident that most smartphone users seldom think about updating their device’s software. Upgrading the OS of your smartphone is critical to keeping your data protected from hackers. If you have an old device that your manufacturer no longer supports, you should consider switching to a newer device as receiving those security updates is essential.


5. Download Apps ONLY From Google And Apple’s Stores


According to experts, the only place with a significant percentage of trustworthy Apps to download is the Apple Store and Google Play Store. These are vetted platforms that work harder to protect your data and dissuade the ever increasing and evolving data miners. Downloading apps from insecure and unofficial sources is the easiest way to make your device vulnerable to malware, spyware, ransomware, and trojan viruses.


Carry Out Research On The App Or Company

Most apps look fantastic and genuine on the surface until you dig deep to ascertain their authenticity. Before installing an app on your phone, it is a good idea to do a google search with the App’s name accompanied by the words “data scandal” “hackers,” or “scam,” You can also do this with the company’s name as many apps are made by a company with a different name other than the name of the app itself. It is better to avoid any app that has had issues with clients even in the past. Beware of free apps!

Exposure To The Social Media World

With more people than ever before on social media, hackers are finding it even easier to access personal data. This information could then be used to track you online or worse.  Many young people cemented their understanding and fear of having their data compromised on Social Media during the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving Facebook. Some even chose to leave social media and never look back. The risk of data privacy violation is severe, even for those not on social media. The reason is that platforms on the internet are becoming increasingly interconnected. It is safe to share less information on social media, especially sensitive data that can be used against you.


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