There are a huge number of apps available on the various app stores—3.5 million and 1.6 million on the Google Play store and Apple’s App Store, respectively—and, while most of them are sufficiently secure to use, many of them aren’t. It can be hard to tell the difference between the two at times, so it is important that you and your team are protecting your business however you can. Let’s discuss the topic of security, as it pertains to mobile app stores, and why the issues have transcended security.
The State of App Store Security
While both Google and Apple have put in measures to protect those using their platforms from malware and are invested in the success of these measures, the system isn’t perfect. Therefore, while the vast majority of apps you download are going to be trustworthy and safe, it is possible for a corrupt app to sneak through and do the bidding of whomever is responsible for it.
The Google Play Store has significant protections in place, but despite this, it also has a history of hosting the most insecure applications. Apple’s App Store has a bit less, sure, but that number certainly isn’t zero. The same can be said of Amazon’s marketplace.
Will most downloads be trustworthy? Yes. Will all downloads be trustworthy? Decidedly not.
All Mobile Devices Rely On These Marketplaces
The number of mobile device users around the world is enormous, and all of them turn to these marketplaces as they look for the software and entertainment that they need to get the value that their mobile devices potentially offer. The app stores have the processes to check that all applications submitted to their platforms are in fact secure, but some threats still manage to sneak through. With the number of applications that these platforms handle, it’s a mathematical eventuality.
What Can a Malicious App Do?
Someone who manages to find and download a malicious application could very well start to experience a variety of issues, such as:
- Ad fraud: Advertisements are a common means for modern apps and games to turn a profit and support the developers, but some malicious apps can run ads in the background, sending ad clicks to different websites and creating a drain on the device’s bandwidth and battery.
- Browser hacking: A malicious app can also access your Internet browser to open websites that promote fraudulent activities or publicize sensitive information.
- Data theft: While apps and data are stored separately on the device, applications are often given permissions to cross that divide. This opens the door for data theft.
What Can Be Done?
Fortunately, you aren’t helpless in all this. There are a few things you can do to greatly reduce your chance of having to deal with an insecure app, including:
- Refraining from jailbreaking your phone. While these app stores have a few blemishes on their track records, they are indescribably more secure than the Internet at large. Jailbreaking your device and sideloading applications onto it brings a significantly higher chance of encountering insecure or malicious applications.
- Updating your mobile device’s operating system. Keeping your OS up-to-date will help minimize the vulnerabilities you might encounter.
- Do your research. Application reviews can help you make safer, smarter decisions when it comes to what you download. The more information you have about an app, the more confident you can be that it isn’t secretly a disguised threat. Social proof is a helpful resource in that regard.
There’s more you can and should also be doing to ensure your business and all its devices remain secure. To learn more about the steps you should be taking, give Nexela a call at (215) 525-3223 today.