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Kaspersky: Users signing away their Privacy when they install apps

Kaspersky Lab has discovered that consumers are installing apps on their devices (such as smartphones and tablets), without being aware of the potential consequences.

mobile-apps

Kaspersky Lab’s “Are you cyber savvy?” Quiz, which questioned 18,507 consumers about their online habits, found that an alarming number of consumers are leaving their privacy – and the data on their phones – exposed to cyberthreats because they are not installing apps on their devices safely.

A shocking 63% of consumers neglect to read the license agreement carefully before installing a new app on their phone and one-in-five (20%) never read messages when installing apps; they simply go through the motions of clicking ‘next’ and ‘agree’, without understanding what they could be signing up to.

When users neglect to read license agreements or messages during the app install process, they do not know what they are agreeing to, Kaspersky Lab said. Some apps can affect user privacy, prompt the installation of other apps, or even change the OS settings of a device completely, legally, because the user has ‘agreed’ to it during the install process.

The quiz also discovered that just under half (43%) of users could be at risk from the apps on their mobile device, because they are not ‘cyber-savvy’ enough to limit app permissions when installing apps. 15% of respondents to the quiz do not limit what their apps can do on their phone at all and 17% give apps permissions when prompted, but then forget about it, while 11% think they can’t change those permissions. When app permissions are left unchecked, it is possible – and legal – for apps to access the personal and private data on mobile devices, from contact information, to photos and location data.

Commenting on the findings, David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab says, “Internet users are entrusting their devices with sensitive information about themselves and others – such as contacts, private messaging etc., yet they are failing to ensure that their information is entirely safe. This can turn their devices into their ‘digital frenemies’. Because they are not taking precautions when they install apps, many consumers are granting apps permission to intrude on their private lives, watch what is stored on their devices and where they are, install additional unwanted apps and make changes to their devices, right from the moment of installation. At Kaspersky Lab, we want to help consumers become more cyber-savvy, and protect their precious data – and themselves – from these dangers.”

To protect themselves, Kaspersky offers the following security tips for consumers:

  • Only download apps from trusted sources (such as Google Play & Apple App Store),
  • Select the apps you wish to install on your device wisely,
  • Read the license agreement carefully during the installation process,
  • Read the list of permissions an app is requesting carefully. Do not simply click ‘next’ during installation, without checking what you are agreeing to,
  • Use a cybersecurity solution that will protect your device from cyberthreats.

About Kugan

Kugan is the founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy