hidden privacy settings in apps

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2024: Beef Up Your Privacy With These Hidden Settings In Apps

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PUREVPNPrivacy & SecurityNational Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2024: Beef Up Your Privacy With These Hidden Settings In Apps

PureVPN actively supports National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2024, observed every October, to educate people about our online threats and how to protect ourselves. 

This year, NCSAM emphasizes the message ‘Secure Our World.’ The message this year revolves around safe access and defense. 

“Secure Our World ” reminds us that there are simple ways to protect yourself, your family, and your business from online threats.”

PureVPN and Secure Our World 2024 will focus on four key behaviors:

To contribute to this cause, PureVPN always aligns the informational blogs and reading material for the people to understand cyber security to the base level. 

Let’s join hands with us in learning the basics of being Cyber Secure.

The first and foremost thing to remember is the control over your access. It’s crucial to adopt a proactive approach. Before installing any app, it’s essential to review its privacy policy and the permissions it requests carefully. 

When sharing content on social media, it’s essential to think twice because once something is online, it’s challenging to remove. When dealing with financial information, ensure you are connected to a secure network.

This month’s objective is to foster a sense of responsibility for being cautious and, more importantly, securing our personal and confidential data.

Internet Privacy is slipping away! To make matters worse, many apps used on smartphones and tablets tend to share data without our knowledge. 

This leaked data can reveal extensive details about us, including our personality, characteristics, and online habits.

Fortunately, there are hidden privacy settings in apps that we can access and configure to protect our private information. 

Why Should You Care About Your Privacy?

Online privacy is the most critical aspect of digital access today. 

Your virtual life needs protection just like your physical. This is because your identity, location, and interests can easily be exposed, inviting identity theft, fraud, and scams. 

Your files, messages, and photos stored are only for you. Without proper protection, these assets could fall into the wrong hands. 

Your financial safety is also at stake as online banking and shopping become convenient targets for cybercriminals. 

❗ Believe it or not: The overall data breach costs reached $4.45 million in 2024.

Strong online privacy measures guard against hacking, keeping your accounts and information safe. 

Additionally, online privacy preserves your freedom by shielding you from unwanted surveillance, ensuring that your personal space, thoughts, and opinions remain yours. 

Hidden App Settings That Might Leak Your Data

Hidden app settings that leak your data are a serious security concern. 

These settings are often not visible to you in the app’s interface and may expose sensitive information if misconfigured or exploited. 

Here are some examples of hidden settings that could pose a data leakage risk:

Backdoor Access: Some apps may have hidden access for debugging or troubleshooting. If these access points are not correctly secured or are accidentally left open, they could be exploited by malicious actors to access your data. 

https://x.com/ShaneTews/status/1709963596112015650?s=20

Excessive Permissions: Apps with hidden settings granting excessive permissions beyond what is necessary for their functionality can be a data privacy risk. 

For instance, an app with access to the device’s camera or microphone without clear user consent could be exploited to capture sensitive information.

https://x.com/telegram/status/1245192960204886018?s=20

Data Logging: Hidden settings enabling extensive data logging or debugging logs may store sensitive data. 

If these logs are not adequately protected or regularly purged, they can be accessed by unauthorized individuals.

https://x.com/JAMES00117053/status/1631353493096103944?s=20

Hidden API Endpoints: Some apps have hidden API endpoints not meant for public access. 

If these endpoints are discovered and exploited, they can potentially leak your data, especially if proper authentication and authorization mechanisms are not in place.

https://x.com/MatteoRigoni/status/1530872666114117638?s=20

Unencrypted Storage: Hidden settings that disable encryption for data storage can put your data at risk. If sensitive information is stored in an unencrypted format, it becomes more vulnerable to data breaches.

Unsecured Debugging Interfaces: Apps often have hidden debugging interfaces that developers can access during development. 

If these interfaces are not correctly secured and accidentally left active in production versions, attackers can exploit them to gain unauthorized access.

Insecure Defaults: Hidden settings with insecure default configurations can expose your data. 

If an app’s default settings allow for data sharing or open network ports without your knowledge, it can lead to data leakage.

Undocumented APIs: Apps may utilize undocumented APIs or features not part of the official documentation. 

These APIs may not be properly secured or maintained and could lead to data exposure if exploited.

Hidden Data Transfer: Some apps may have hidden settings allowing data transfer to third-party servers or services without your consent. This can result in unauthorized data sharing or leakage.

https://x.com/samudecay/status/1708124911535788238?s=20

Remote Control Settings: Apps with hidden settings that enable remote control or access to your devices can be exploited to extract data or manipulate the device without your knowledge or consent.

Keep a Check on Android Privacy Settings

App Audit

To maintain control over the apps on your Android device, it’s crucial to review their permissions periodically. 

When you initially launch an app after installing it, it requests access to various parts of your device, such as the camera, microphone, or personal data like contacts and messages. 

It’s wise to ensure that apps only have access to what’s necessary. 

To do this, 

  • navigate to Settings, 
  • then Privacy, and 
  • Finally, the Permissions Manager. 

Here, you’ll find a list of permissions like location and contacts. Check each option and verify that the “allowed” apps align with their intended purposes; for instance, ride-sharing apps like Uber should have location access, while basic tools like a calculator shouldn’t.

Delete Advertising Apps

An Android advertising ID is essentially a series of numbers linked to your mobile device. 

This identifier is visible to app developers and their advertising associates as you navigate through apps, and it assists them in monitoring your activities across different apps to deliver targeted advertisements.

On Android 12 or newer devices, a feature allows you to transform your advertising ID into a sequence of zeros, enhancing your privacy. 

To do this:

  • navigate to your device’s Settings, 
  • then Privacy, and select Ads. 

From there, you can choose “Delete advertising ID.”

Encrypt Your Phone

Most modern Android smartphones already have encryption enabled, which provides a layer of security by safeguarding your personal data from easy access unless someone successfully unlocks your device. 

However, this encryption feature may not be turned on by default if you’re using an older Android phone or tablet. 

Here’s how to verify:

  • Navigate to your device’s Settings.
  • Select Security.
  • Go to the Advanced section.
  • Locate Encryption and Credentials.

If your device is already encrypted, you’ll find the status as “Encrypted” under the “Encrypt phone” option, and no further action is needed. 

However, if you don’t see this status, tap “Encrypt phone” to initiate the encryption process. Be prepared for it to take some time, possibly over an hour, as it’s a comprehensive security measure.

Change Chrome’s Settings

There are ways to enhance Chrome’s safety. 

  • Start by opening the Chrome app and tapping the menu, consisting of three dots beside the address bar. 
  • Next, select “Settings” and then navigate to “Privacy and security.” 
  • Ensure that the options “Do Not Track” and “Always use secure connections” are enabled here. 

These steps will help you use Chrome with greater security.

Keep a Check on iPhone Privacy Settings

To enhance your iPhone’s security settings and prevent privacy leakage through apps, consider the following steps:

App Permissions:

  • Go to “Settings” and select “Privacy.”
  • Review each category, such as Location Services, Contacts, Photos, and Camera.
  • Only grant app permissions to access data that is essential for their functionality.

App Tracking Transparency:

  • In iOS 14.5 and later, you can control app tracking.
  • Go to “Settings,” select “Privacy,” and then choose “Tracking.”
  • Enable the “Allow Apps to Request to Track” option and carefully review app tracking requests.

Limit Ad Tracking:

  • Under “Settings,” go to “Privacy,” then “Apple Advertising.”
  • Activate “Limit Ad Tracking” to restrict personalized ad targeting.

App Store Settings:

  • Keep your apps up-to-date by enabling automatic app updates in “Settings” > “App Store.”
  • Enable 2FA for your Apple ID to secure app purchases.

Biometric Security:

  • Use Face ID or Touch ID to lock your device and secure app access.
  • Go to “Settings” > “Face ID & Passcode” or “Touch ID & Passcode” to set up these features.

Password Manager:

  • Use a reputable password manager to create and store strong, unique app passwords.
  • Enable iCloud Keychain to store and autofill passwords securely.

App Review & Permissions:

  • Periodically review the list of apps with access to your data in “Settings” > “Privacy.”
  • Revoke permissions for apps that no longer need access to your data.

Data Encryption:

  • Ensure that your device is encrypted by setting a passcode under “Settings” > “Touch ID & Passcode” or “Face ID & Passcode.”
  • Use complex passwords or alphanumeric passwords for better security.

App Downloads:

  • Download apps only from official sources such as the App Store to minimize the risk of malware.
  • Be cautious about sideloading apps from third-party sources.

App Store Privacy Labels:

  • Review privacy labels provided by apps on the App Store to understand their data collection practices.

Sign in with Apple:

  • When signing up for apps and services, use “Sign in with Apple” to protect your email and identity.

Location Services:

  • Set location preferences to “While Using” for most apps rather than “Always.”
  • Disable location sharing for apps that don’t need it.

Background App Refresh:

  • Limit or disable background app refresh for apps that don’t require real-time updates.

iOS Updates:

  • Keep your iPhone’s operating system updated to benefit from security patches and enhancements.

The Executive Director of the EU Agency for Cybersecurity said: “In an ever growing connected world, protecting shared data is essential if we want to generate trust in digital services.”

“We therefore need to rely on the technologies at hand to address the emerging risks and thus find the solutions to best protect the rights and freedoms of individuals across the EU.”

Wrapping Up

Keeping your privacy in your control is your right. Learn to be safe online. Being vigilant while giving access to apps will always help prevent misusing your data. 

In 2024, strive to be secure with PureVPN as your security partner.

author

PureVPN

date

January 1, 2024

time

7 months ago

PureVPN is a leading VPN service provider that excels in providing easy solutions for online privacy and security. With 6000+ servers in 65+ countries, It helps consumers and businesses in keeping their online identity secured.

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