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...
  • Gold steady ahead of Trump's policy speech Reuters - 2 hours 9 minutes ago

    The metal hit its highest since Nov. 11 at $1,263.80 in the previous session. * U.S. gold futures (GCcv1) fell 0.5 percent to $1,252.70. * Investors are looking towards U.S. President Donald Trump's policy speech to a joint session of Congress on … More »

  • Snap expects some IPO investors to make year-long commitments
    Snap expects some IPO investors to make year-long commitments Reuters - 2 hours 13 minutes ago

    While Snap cautioned it had no binding commitments yet from investors accepting such a lock-up period, the disclosure is a sign of confidence from the company in what is expected to be the biggest U.S. IPO since Facebook Inc (FB.O). A year-long … More »

  • Snap expects some IPO investors to make year-long commitments
    Snap expects some IPO investors to make year-long commitments Reuters - 2 hours 14 minutes ago

    While Snap cautioned it had no binding commitments yet from investors accepting such a lock-up period, the disclosure is a sign of confidence from the company in what is expected to be the biggest U.S. IPO since Facebook Inc (FB.O). A year-long … More »

  • Snap expects some IPO investors to make year-long commitments
    Snap expects some IPO investors to make year-long commitments Reuters - 2 hours 17 minutes ago

    While Snap cautioned it had no binding commitments yet from investors accepting such a lock-up period, the disclosure is a sign of confidence from the company in what is expected to be the biggest U.S. IPO since Facebook Inc. A year-long lock-up … More »

  • Self-driving Nissan car takes to Europe's streets for first time Reuters - 2 hours 33 minutes ago

    Guided by cameras and radars, and negotiating traffic and roundabouts, a self-driving Nissan car took to the streets of London on Monday for the Japanese company's first European tests of an autonomous vehicle. Travelling at up to 50 miles (80 km) … More »

  • Belmond posts 4Q profit Associated Press - 2 hours 36 minutes ago

    On a per-share basis, the Hamilton, Bermuda-based company said it had profit of 7 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains and to account for discontinued operations, came to 1 cent per share. ... … More »

  • JBT posts 4Q profit Associated Press - 2 hours 38 minutes ago

    On a per-share basis, the Chicago-based company said it had profit of 77 cents. Earnings, adjusted for restructuring costs and to account for discontinued operations, were 85 cents per share. The food ... … More »

  • BRIEF-Mitrajaya entered into a global JV agreement with Gema Padu Reuters - 2 hours 40 minutes ago

    Feb 28 (Reuters) - Mitrajaya Holdings Bhd * On 27 Feb entered into a global joint venture agreement with Gema Padu Sdn Bhd for 181.2 million RGT * Deal to jointly develop various parcels of land in Selangor ... … More »

  • Black Stone Minerals misses Street 4Q forecasts Associated Press - 2 hours 43 minutes ago

    The Houston-based company said it had net income of 1 cent per share. The results missed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings ... … More »

  • BHP Says `Bloody Awful' Trade Pledges Threaten Trump's Pump (1) Bloomberg - 2 hours 53 minutes ago

    (Bloomberg) -- The head of the world’s biggest mining company intensified his warnings that U.S. trade protectionism under President Donald Trump would threaten global growth and the fight against poverty. … More »

  • Maiden Holdings reports 4Q loss Associated Press - 2 hours 55 minutes ago

    On a per-share basis, the Hamilton, Bermuda-based company said it had a loss of 87 cents. Losses, adjusted for one-time items, came to 81 cents per share. The reinsurance holding company posted revenue ... … More »

  • Japan January retail sales rise 1.0 percent year/year - government
    Japan January retail sales rise 1.0 percent year/year - government Reuters - 3 hours ago

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese retail sales rose 1.0 percent in January from a year earlier, versus a median market forecast for a 0.9 percent increase, government data showed on Tuesday. To view full tables, ... … More »

  • UK consumer morale dips as inflation pinches households - GfK Reuters - 3 hours ago

    British consumer morale edged lower in February as rising inflation following last year's Brexit vote made householders warier about the outlook for their finances, surveys showed. Two separate reports conducted by market research firms GfK and … More »

  • South Korea's March business sentiment improves slightly
    South Korea's March business sentiment improves slightly Reuters - 3 hours ago

    An index measuring South Korean business confidence showed that manufacturers turned slightly more optimistic about business conditions for the month ahead as exports continued to grow, a central bank survey showed on Tuesday. The Bank of Korea's … More »

  • Shell Shuns New Oil Sands as Low Crude Prices Force Cost Control Bloomberg - 3 hours ago

    While Shell’s existing oil-sands operations generate strong cash flows, the expense of developing new projects discourages additional investments, Chief Executive Officer Ben Van Beurden said in an interview. Oil sands, the reserves of heavy crude … More »

  • How to put a number to “uncertainty” – and what it means for markets
    How to put a number to “uncertainty” – and what it means for markets Truewealth Publishing - 3 hours ago

    Markets hate uncertainty. But lots of uncertainty – as there is now – doesn’t mean that markets won’t go up. Uncertainty is more subjective than (say) volatility, or stock market valuations, or the price performance of assets. To most people, … More »

  • Exxon's Post-Tillerson Fortunes Closer to Home as New CEO Pivots Bloomberg - 3 hours ago

    After a two-year pricing rout erased 19 percent of Exxon’s untapped crude by making it unprofitable to extract, Woods faces a tough task in sustaining the company’s output. Woods’s first public appearance since becoming chief executive officer is … More »

  • Japan January industrial output falls 0.8 percent month/month - government
    Japan January industrial output falls 0.8 percent month/month - government Reuters - 3 hours ago

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's industrial output unexpectedly fell 0.8 percent in January, posting the first decline in six months, government data showed on Tuesday. The month-on-month fall compared with a ... … More »

  • PHI Inc. reports 4Q loss Associated Press - 3 hours ago

    The Lafayette, Louisiana-based company said it had a loss of $1.08 per share. The helicopter transportation company serving the oil and gas industry posted revenue of $144.9 million in the period. For ... … More »

  • Ensco beats 4Q profit forecasts Associated Press - 3 hours ago

    On a per-share basis, the London-based company said it had profit of 13 cents. Earnings, adjusted to account for discontinued operations and non-recurring gains, came to 9 cents per share. The results ... … More »

  • BWX beats 4Q profit forecasts Associated Press - 3 hours ago

    On a per-share basis, the Lynchburg, Virginia-based company said it had net income of 34 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs and restructuring costs, came to 46 cents per share. The results ... … More »

  • AppFolio reports 4Q loss Associated Press - 3 hours ago

    On a per-share basis, the Santa Barbara, California-based company said it had a loss of 4 cents. Earnings, adjusted for stock option expense, were less than 1 cent on a per-share basis. The property management ... … More »

  • Elio’s tiny car gets 84 mpg and costs only $7,300 — here’s what it was like
    Elio’s tiny car gets 84 mpg and costs only $7,300 — here’s what it was like Business Insider - 3 hours ago

    Hollis Johnson Elio Motors has one of the … Continued The post Elio’s tiny car gets 84 mpg and costs only $7,300 — here’s what it was like appeared first on Business Insider. … More »

  • Sun Hydraulics posts 4Q profit Associated Press - 3 hours ago

    The Sarasota, Florida-based company said it had net income of 12 cents per share. The maker of screw-in hydraulic cartridge valves and manifolds posted revenue of $49.9 million in the period. For the year, ... … More »

  • Medpace tops Street 4Q forecasts Associated Press - 3 hours ago

    On a per-share basis, the Cincinnati-based company said it had a loss of less than 1 cent. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were 35 cents per share. The results topped Wall Street expectations. ... … 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
    0.225-0.005-2.17%
    N21.SI
    2.62-0.12-4.38%
    MC0.SI
    0.285+0.015+5.56%
    PH0.SI
    0.380.00-1.30%
    E5H.SI
    0.174-0.005-2.79%
    40E.SI
  • % Gainers
    % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.34+0.05+17.24%
    PA3.SI
    0.133+0.012+9.92%
    5IG.SI
    0.20+0.02+8.70%
    BJD.SI
    0.193+0.013+7.22%
    1A4.SI
    43.01+2.80+6.96%
    C07.SI
  • % Losers
    % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.54-0.06-10.00%
    BQP.SI
    0.25-0.03-9.09%
    BLZ.SI
    0.205-0.020-8.89%
    S46.SI
    0.30-0.02-7.69%
    F83.SI
    0.67-0.05-6.94%
    5JK.SI

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1.4050+0.0009+0.07%
    USDSGD=X
    1.4870+0.0007+0.05%
    EURSGD=X
    1.7464+0.0004+0.02%
    GBPSGD=X
    80.1550-0.068-0.08%
    SGDJPY=X
    5.5219-0.0036-0.07%
    SGDHKD=X
    3.1632+0.0022+0.07%
    SGDMYR=X
    9,498.3770-5.6465-0.06%
    SGDIDR=X
    4.8919+0.0016+0.03%
    SGDCNY=X
    1.0792+0.0017+0.16%
    AUDSGD=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1,254.00-4.80-0.38%
    GCJ17.CMX
    18.36-0.05-0.28%
    SIK17.CMX
    84.47-4.15-4.69%
    ^XAU
    2.69-0.01-0.39%
    HGK17.CMX
    54.14+0.09+0.17%
    CLJ17.NYM
  • Bonds
    Bonds
    TreasuryYield (%)Yield Change
    1.87+0.07
    ^FVX
    2.37+0.05
    ^TNX
    2.99+0.03
    ^TYX