The internet revolutionized how we communicate, and the entry of mobile devices changed the scene. Apps for mobile devices allow us to do things like mobile banking, online shopping, etc. There are free and paid apps, which both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of free apps
- No cost
Most apps require you to pay an initial payment, but free apps cost nothing.
- More flexibility
Apps allow you to perform tasks on the go and at any time you please.
Dangers of free mobile apps
As much as free mobile apps are convenient, they pose many dangers, such as:
- Hidden malware
Some of these free apps are malware in disguise. Some malware and viruses come in the form of apps, luring users to download them. Once you download the app, it injects malware into your computer. This malware stole your log-in details such as usernames and passwords and used to steal from you.
- Low Quality
Apps cost money to build and granted, and free apps are usually of inferior quality. The app does not have all the features a paid app might have.
- Data collection
Since the apps are free, their developers have to justify their existence and make profits by collecting their users’ data and selling it to third parties for a profit. Once you install these free apps on your computer or mobile device, the apps monitor your online activity and then sell it to third parties.
These companies are mostly advertisement companies who use this information to bring you customized ads. According to a survey finding by Juniper Networks, free mobile apps pose severe privacy threats because they can capture vast user data.
Free mobile apps have a 401% chance of tracking user location and have a 314% higher chance of accessing their users’ address books than an app they have paid for in advance. Most apps in the study already had permission to access the internet, which was in itself a means for data leaking from your device.
An analysis of the millions of apps in the Android market revealed that most apps get personal information from the users or perform some functions that are not necessary for the apps function. Free VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are among the risks you should avoid. Most free VPN service providers sell your data to third parties. Consider using a VPN app with a paid subscription, where you assured of privacy and security.
How to stay protected
Manage app permission
Always check what permissions you give apps. Check if it makes sense for the app to ask for those permissions. Apps asking to access data that is not relevant to its core function.
Read the terms of the agreement
Most people do not read the terms of the agreement before accepting them. These agreements usually hold hidden terms that permit apps to collect data.
Install antivirus and antimalware
Install an antivirus and antimalware to block viruses and malware from infecting your computer.
Avoid third-party apps
Ensure you only download apps directly from the legal developer and third-party apps that steal your data and send you annoying ads.
Choose a paid alternative
For the reasons mentioned above, choose a paid alternative app, which offers you more features and spares you adware, malware, and viruses.
Apps go a long way in helping users to perform tasks faster and more conveniently. Using free apps exposes you to many dangers such as malware, viruses, and adware. Taking precautions will go a long way in helping you thwart all these threats.