Not all apps are what they seem. Some in particular are out there to steal your data - or your dollars. So how do you work out which ones?
First up, take some comfort in knowing that Google Play and the Apple App Store have their own security measures to prevent the sale of apps that have dangerous or fraudulent features. However, apps from the Apple App Store are all vetted by Apple first, whereas those from Google aren’t. Google has acknowledged that this results in a higher risk to users and has taken steps to increase security, with the use of powerful scanning software that aims to detect scam apps and erase them without warning. Nevertheless, this dragnet is far from perfect and apps on Google still present the biggest risk.
So how do you spot a shifty app?
1. Check the Developer of the App: Have a look at their website – is it legit? Of course, some apps don’t show the actual developer but rather the company who uploaded the app (this is usual a company who has hired a third-party developer). In this case, check the company – is it a reputable one?
2. Pay attention to the description: If you have many spelling mistakes or are poorly worded, beware. Serious developers don’t make these sorts of mistakes!
3. User Ratings: The better the ratings of the application you want to download, the better. If it’s got a low score or a high score but with few valuations, be suspicious (they could be false, in the latter case).
4. User comments: The more comments an App has, the better. If you see only few that are all positive, be wary... these could be false.
5. Permissions: If it seems that the app is requesting more permissions than it should to perform its functions, that’s a red flag.
6. Beware if the app has not been downloaded by many users: If there’s not enough info, it’s hard to make a proper evaluation of the app.
7. If, once installed, the app requests your cell number to provide its services, uninstall it urgently. You’re likely to be start receiving premium SMSes that will cost you a small fortune.