Before You Download That App, What You Need to Know About Security and Privacy

An entrepreneur's smartphone and tablet are stuffed with sensitive information, from customer lists to business strategy notes. Loss or theft isn't the only way it can fall into the wrong hands. Cyberthieves and unprincipled or ignorant companies could use apps to take data without your even realizing it.

Mobile apps -- whether for business or entertainment -- can upload your contact lists and access your location and email, though in almost all cases you must give them permission to do so. They may also store personal and other sensitive information, and sell it or share it, without your knowledge.

Your phone is "highly personal and facilitates a huge level of data collection," says Sarah Downey, a privacy analyst at Abine Inc., a Boston-based privacy software firm. You owe it to yourself, your business and your clients -- especially if your company promises them confidentiality -- to keep your devices free of malicious apps and to put privacy protections in place.

Here are five tips to consider before downloading a new app on your device:

1. Shop wisely.
Despite the media hype, malware on mobile devices is not yet a significant problem. Although malware incidents are on the rise, the majority involve apps acquired from random, untrustworthy websites. Most have targeted the Symbian operating system and, more recently, Android. You can reduce your risk of downloading an outright malicious app to almost zero by acquiring apps only from your operating system maker's app store.

Related: Three Tips for Keeping Business Data Safe on Personal Mobile Devices 

Google scrutinizes the security of apps sold through Google Play (formerly the Android Market), takes user complaints and removes apps that violate its policies. Apple also vets apps before allowing them to grace its App Store which, experts say, has never distributed a malicious app. Microsoft does the same in its Windows Phone 7 marketplace.

2. Be cautious.
Before downloading an app from a company you've never heard of, do a quick web search to make sure it's legitimate and reputable. People love to complain online, and their grumbles could protect you from a bad actor -- or a sloppy newcomer that ignores user privacy.

3. Be socially discerning.
Don't use your personal Facebook or Twitter account to sign in to a business app. "You want to keep a separation between church and state," says Pam Dixon, executive director of World Privacy Forum, a San Diego-based advocacy group. "We don't know all the dangers yet … You need to make sure client data is not getting sucked in [to social networks]. It could be a real competitive issue down the road."

4. Demand privacy.
Don't buy an app it if requires permission to access data or take other actions you find intrusive or unnecessary. Few apps need your contacts list or physical location. Even fewer need to access your emails, send text messages or listen in via your microphone.

App developers often seek more permissions than they need in case they might want them for a new feature down the road, Downey says. Many apps don't have privacy polices (though more will soon), and they often fail to disclose or are vague about how they'll use your data.

Related: Nine Tools for Building Your Own Mobile App

Also, check privacy policies, the documents that give you legal recourse if data are misused. You can use your computer to visit the app store, find the app and click through to the developer's site to look for the policy. If necessary, email the app maker for more information. Does your note-taking app store a copy of your scribblings on its own servers? Does your project planner transmit your client list?

If you're not comfortable after your due diligence, don't install the app and let the maker know why. Mobile privacy is new territory that's beginning to get public, corporate and government attention.

5. Check your existing apps.
It isn't quick, easy or fun, but it is helpful to review the privacy policies and permissions given to apps you already own.

Android users can review permissions for individual apps by going to the Settings screen and choosing Device and then Apps. Both Android and iPhone let you adjust or totally turn off their GPS location features within settings. With iPhone, you can see which apps access location and turn each one on or off. Apple plans to provide a similar tool for adjusting permissions to access contacts lists in a future operating system update.

Related: Three Ways to Make Your App Stand Out (Video)

Independent resources for understanding app privacy and security are limited. WhatApp.org has some useful expert reviews but covers a very small number of apps. Common Sense Media reviews games and other apps popular with kids.

Concerned users may want to consider security software to defend against mobile malware, including spyware apps like FlexiSPY, which are most often planted by jealous lovers but presumably could be installed by corporate spies.

Lookout Inc., a mobile security software maker, offers Privacy Advisor as part of its premium security software package for Android phones and tablets ($3 a month or $30 a year). Privacy Advisor provides a list of which of your apps can access private data, along with reports that explain the risks and capabilities of each app.

This article originally posted on Entrepreneur.com

--

Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.
Loading...
  • Business Highlights Associated Press - 8 minutes ago

    ___ The hidden risk to the economy in corporate balance sheets America's debt problem is showing up in an unexpected place: Corporate America. Of the $1.8 trillion in cash that's sitting in U.S. corporate ... … More »

  • U.S. banking regulators focused on cyber security after SWIFT attacks
    U.S. banking regulators focused on cyber security after SWIFT attacks Reuters - 10 minutes ago

    U.S. banking regulators said on Wednesday they are focused on cyber security risks and controls for U.S. financial institutions after attacks earlier this year involving the global financial network known as SWIFT. In a letter responding to … More »

  • Dismal time for Gulf oil = record low lease bidding
    Dismal time for Gulf oil = record low lease bidding Associated Press - 23 minutes ago

    The federal government's annual sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico attracted hardly any interest on Wednesday, reflecting a dismal outlook for offshore drilling. Only three oil companies ... … More »

  • HP Inc forecasts weak profit on low demand for printers
    HP Inc forecasts weak profit on low demand for printers Reuters - 27 minutes ago

    (Reuters) - HP Inc (HPQ.N) forecast fourth-quarter profit below analysts' estimates as the company, which was split off from the former Hewlett-Packard Co, struggles with weak demand for its printers. ... … More »

  • The Latest: Quake rescue work suspended at Italian hotel
    The Latest: Quake rescue work suspended at Italian hotel Associated Press - 31 minutes ago

    The Latest on the earthquake in central Italy (all times local): 10:45 p.m. A rescue official says Italian rescue workers have been forced to suspend their search at the site of a hotel that was badly ... … More »

  • Australia's Luxury-Car Binge Belies Its Drop in Living Standards Bloomberg - 32 minutes ago

    "A lot has been made of softer economic conditions over the first half of 2016, however the same cannot be said for the luxury car market,'' said Savanth Sebastian, an economist at CommSec. "Higher home prices are boosting wealth levels and … More »

  • Canada takes tough line with China over canola export dispute Reuters - 33 minutes ago

    OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada notably hardened its line with China on Wednesday in a dispute over Canadian canola exports, saying bilateral relations could not improve until Beijing took action to settle the ... … More »

  • How the Dow Jones industrial average fared on Wednesday Associated Press - 42 minutes ago

    Stocks closed lower on Wednesday, led by sharp declines in health-care companies as outrage over the steep price hikes for Mylan's EpiPens escalates. On Wednesday: The Dow Jones industrial average fell ... … More »

  • Stocks end lower as health-care companies decline
    Stocks end lower as health-care companies decline Associated Press - 43 minutes ago

    Stocks closed lower on Wednesday, led by sharp declines in health-care companies as outrage over the steep price hikes for Mylan's EpiPens escalates. Trading remains quiet overall with many investors still ... … More »

  • Ex-Comverse CEO pleads guilty to fraud, a decade after fleeing U.S.
    Ex-Comverse CEO pleads guilty to fraud, a decade after fleeing U.S. Reuters - 44 minutes ago

    The former chief executive officer of Comverse Technology Inc pleaded guilty to securities fraud on Wednesday, a decade after fleeing the United States for Namibia to avoid prosecution. Jacob "Kobi" Alexander, the Woodbury, New York-based software … More »

  • Pharma shares under fire as US stocks fall AFP - 46 minutes ago

    US stocks fell Wednesday with pharmaceutical shares tumbling as controversy over the sky-high price of Mylan's EpiPen prompted rebukes from the White House and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ... … More »

  • Williams-Sonoma meets 2Q profit forecasts Associated Press - 1 hour 9 minutes ago

    On a per-share basis, the San Francisco-based company said it had net income of 58 cents. The results matched Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment ... … More »

  • Wall St. falls as healthcare, materials stumble
    Wall St. falls as healthcare, materials stumble Reuters - 1 hour 11 minutes ago

    Wall Street retreated on Wednesday, pulled lower by weakness in the materials and healthcare sectors as investors continued to weigh the possibility of an interest rate hike in the coming months. The market is awaiting Federal Reserve Chair Janet … More »

  • Markets Right Now: US stocks close lower Associated Press - 1 hour 20 minutes ago

    The latest on developments in global financial markets (all times local): 4:00 p.m. Stocks are closing lower, led by drops in health care companies, more than erasing a modest gain from the day before. ... … More »

  • Stocks Drop as Political Risk Haunts Emerging Markets; Oil Sinks Bloomberg - 1 hour 30 minutes ago

    Developing-nation shares dropped the most in seven weeks after Turkey launched a military operation in Syria and North Korea conducted a missile test. South Africa’s rand led losses among its global peers as the nation’s finance minister refused to … More »

  • The Tiny Ski Town Defying Japan’s Scary Population Collapse Bloomberg - 1 hour 32 minutes ago

    The area’s booming economy has spurred investment in luxury hotels, restaurants, and shops--and attracted local and expat workers who’ve become full-time residents. Niseko’s population grew 2.9 percent last year to 4,952 compared with 2010 levels, … More »

  • Grain lower, livestock lower Associated Press - 1 hour 34 minutes ago

    Grain futures were lower Wednesday on the Chicago Board of Trade. Wheat for Sept. declined 3.75 cents at $4.04 a bushel; Sept. corn fell 1 cent to 3.2750 a bushel; Sept. oats was off 2.25 cents at $1.6925 ... … More »

  • Oil pipeline: The legal challenges and protests Associated Press - 1 hour 37 minutes ago

    A federal judge has heard testimony in the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's request to temporarily block the construction of a four-state oil pipeline near their reservation, which straddles the North Dakota-South ... … More »

  • Oil slides on surprise jump in US crude stockpiles AFP - 1 hour 46 minutes ago

    Oil prices slumped Wednesday as a surprise jump in US crude stockpiles added to lingering concerns over a global supply glut. The US Department of Energy said commercial inventories of crude grew by 2.5 ... … More »

  • North Korea test-fires sub-launched missile close to Japan
    North Korea test-fires sub-launched missile close to Japan AFP News - 1 hour 49 minutes ago

    North Korea on Wednesday test-fired a submarine-launched missile 500 kilometres (around 300 miles) towards Japan, marking what weapons analysts called a clear step forward for its nuclear strike ambitions. The flight distance, which was tracked by … More »

  • U.S. crude down 3 percent after big stockpile build
    U.S. crude down 3 percent after big stockpile build Reuters - 2 hours 14 minutes ago

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said crude inventories rose 2.5 million barrels last week, versus analysts' forecasts for a draw of 500,000 barrels. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures settled down $1.33, or 2.8 percent, at … More »

  • European stocks rebound as euro slips; oil tumbles
    European stocks rebound as euro slips; oil tumbles Reuters - 2 hours 21 minutes ago

    European stocks scored consecutive daily gains for the first time in three weeks on Wednesday, drawing support from a weak euro, but U.S. and Canadian stocks drifted down as lower metal and oil prices weighed on the materials sector. Emerging … More »

  • EU, Portugal agree on 5 billion euro recapitalisation for ailing bank CGD
    EU, Portugal agree on 5 billion euro recapitalisation for ailing bank CGD Reuters - 2 hours 25 minutes ago

    LISBON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission and Portugal have agreed in principle on the recapitalisation, on market terms, of ailing state-owned bank CGD, envisaging an injection of up to 2.7 billion euros (£2.3 billion) in state funds and … More »

  • Ecuador, Iran officials meet on need to stabilise oil prices Reuters - 2 hours 48 minutes ago

    QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador's Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said on Wednesday that the South American country's authorities spoke with a visiting Iranian delegation about the need to stabilise oil prices. ... … More »

  • Syria rebels backed by Turkey tanks 'seize' IS-held town
    Syria rebels backed by Turkey tanks 'seize' IS-held town AFP News - 2 hours 49 minutes ago

    Turkish tanks and hundreds of opposition fighters thrust deep inside Syrian territory Wednesday in a lightning operation that within hours ousted Islamic State jihadists from a key Syrian border town. The air and ground offensive -- the most … More »

 
Recent Quotes
Symbol Price Change % Chg 
Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
 
Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.

MARKET MOVERS

  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.1290.0000.00%
    N21.SI
    0.250.00-1.96%
    5ME.SI
    0.60+0.04+6.57%
    5TP.SI
    0.99-0.02-1.98%
    Y92.SI
    0.156+0.007+4.70%
    AFC.SI
  • % Gainers
    % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.30+0.06+22.45%
    T18.SI
    0.15+0.02+15.38%
    5TI.SI
    0.225+0.025+12.50%
    Y35.SI
    0.51+0.05+12.09%
    BHU.SI
    0.162+0.017+11.72%
    QS9.SI
  • % Losers
    % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.011-0.115-91.27%
    QF6.SI
    0.23-0.17-42.50%
    AWI.SI
    0.205-0.055-21.15%
    I06.SI
    0.45-0.10-18.18%
    BFK.SI
    0.385-0.085-18.09%
    E8Z.SI

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1.3541+0.0028+0.21%
    USDSGD=X
    1.5247-0.0023-0.15%
    EURSGD=X
    1.7913+0.0086+0.48%
    GBPSGD=X
    74.1210+0.012+0.02%
    SGDJPY=X
    5.7214-0.0141-0.25%
    SGDHKD=X
    2.9771+0.0013+0.04%
    SGDMYR=X
    9,783.8555-32.8486-0.33%
    SGDIDR=X
    4.9136+0.00020.00%
    SGDCNY=X
    1.0311+0.0022+0.21%
    AUDSGD=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1,327.30-18.80-1.40%
    GCZ16.CMX
    18.50-0.42-2.20%
    SIU16.CMX
    95.34-8.55-8.23%
    ^XAU
    2.08-0.03-1.63%
    HGU16.CMX
    46.80-1.30-2.70%
    CLV16.NYM
  • Bonds
    Bonds
    TreasuryYield (%)Yield Change
    1.140.00
    ^FVX
    1.56+0.01
    ^TNX
    2.24+0.01
    ^TYX