mobile app security risks

Mobile Apps Security Face Severe Risks in the UK

Mobile app security issues in the UK are escalating each day. With the introduction of smartphones came the possibility that cybercriminals can hack into your phone via the applications that you download.

Play Store and many other application stores are filled with apps that are being managed by cybercriminals. These may be gaming applications or any other app with features that entertain the audience.

Though the application may seem interesting and trustworthy at the start, you’ll start thinking differently when you check the number of permissions that you’ve granted to the app. For example, it is foolish to grant permission to access storage to a gaming application. That app has no concern whatsoever as to the data that you’ve stored on your smartphone.

Such mobile app security issues are quite common, especially in the UK. For example, a survey reveals that almost half, or 45% to be exact, of all UK smartphone users, do not scrutinize the app’s details. And an astounding 60% never, or only occasionally, review the privacy policy and permissions requested by any application.

Such a carefree approach with smartphone applications is leaving Britons vulnerable against cybercriminals who wish to hack into their phones and steal their private data. With 3.8 million cybercrime activities being reported each year in the UK, one can imagine how dangerous these threats are to the entire British population.

Millennials more vulnerable to application vulnerabilities

According to research, millennials are found to be guilty of clicking before thinking. Around 14% reveal that they have mistakenly downloaded applications that they thought were from a trustworthy brand.

Millennials also like to jail-break their phones so they can add and remove applications as per their will. This allows them to download applications from 3rd party app stores, which are usually filled with corrupt and malicious applications.

Millennials also have the tendency to click on ads they see on websites. These ads are often being generated by malicious services and websites, and link to pages filled malicious programs or cookies.

Women and mobile application vulnerabilities

Interestingly, women are found to be less cyber conscious compared to men. According to surveys, a quarter, or 26%, of women never read an application’s privacy policy or review its requested permissions.

They are also less likely to install security and privacy software or apps compared to men. They are usually not interested in reviewing and security features of a phone or any other smart device before purchasing it.

Android applications sharing user information with one another

In a study of more than 100,000 of Google Play’s most popular applications, it was revealed that around 23,495 of these are colluding pair of applications. This means that these applications share user information with one another, either because they work for the same brand, or they may be on good terms with one another.

This capability to share user information can have a disastrous outcome for smartphone users in the UK. It means that even if you remain careful as to what permissions you are granting to an application, you can still lose your private information to an application without your consent. These applications don’t need to ask for special permissions, because they can easily get this data from another application.

“Researchers were aware that apps may talk to one another in some way, shape, or form,” said Gang Wang, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech’s department of computer science and one of the co-authors of the research.

“What this study shows undeniably with real-world evidence over and over again is that app behavior, whether it is intentional or not, can pose a security breach depending on the kinds of apps you have on your phone.”

This means that an app that seems innocuous at first, like a torch app, maybe receiving your geo-location data or your contacts.

Though, it isn’t possible to quantify the intentions of developers, since many of them may be colluding unintentionally. But it is still a risk for people using these services in the United Kingdom.

“Of the apps we studied, we found thousands of pairs of apps that could potentially leak sensitive phone or personal information and allow unauthorized apps to gain access to privileged data,” says fellow researcher Professor Daphne Yao.

How dangerous can these mobile app security risks be for Brits?

In a previous blog, we have already analyzed how dangerous it could be if you mistakenly download an app that is being managed by a hacker or cybercriminal. Dozens of apps are created with the sole purpose of infecting a user’s mobile device. Once you download any of these apps, your phone will get infected with any attached viruses or malware.

A virus can slow down, hang, or even crash your smartphone device. A malware, on the other hand, will leak your private information or data to hackers, cybercriminals, or online surveillance agencies. Both of these threats are incredibly dangerous to any smartphone user.

We’ve already discovered multiple cases where even terrorist organizations were involved in the surveillance of the British population. These organizations gather private data of Britons and use this data for multiple purposes. They can demand ransom from individuals they have stolen data from. Ransom gathered in such cases is usually used in the funding of terrorist activities around the world.

They may also gather private data of individuals, like their geolocation, so they can inflict the most damage if they carry out any of their terrorist threats in great Britain. All these can be done simply by taking advantage of mobile application vulnerabilities already present inside the United Kingdom.

How to protect yourself from mobile app security risks?

Mobile app security must be a serious matter for any individual. The good news is that these mobile application vulnerabilities can easily be eliminated if Britons take special care when downloading any application. Reviewing the privacy policy of any application, and granting permissions only where due can help in eliminating most of these vulnerabilities.

The importance of security and privacy services cannot be stressed enough in situations like these. Making sure that you have anti-virus and anti-malware software installed is a must. And a VPN for the UK makes sure that none of your data gets into the wrong hands by making sure that any online communications from your devices remain private and secure.

Sheheryar Khan Sheheryar Ahmed Khan is a privacy enthusiast, currently affiliated with PureVPN. His reporting covers subjects related to online privacy, anonymity, and security. Also a believer in online freedom, Sheheryar likes to spend his free time streaming football matches and TV shows online.

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