Protect Your Phone’s Privacy & Use Apps Wisely

Monday, March 27, 2017 7:07 pm, Posted by Absolute Destruction

If you had to guess, how often do you think you checked your phone? Would you answer ten, maybe fifteen times, scattered throughout the day just to check messages and occasionally Google something you need to know?

Unless you’re the master of self-control, these numbers are just a little anemic. In reality, the average person checks their phone 110 times a day, and it’s not always to answer a call. The devices we keep in our back pocket have evolved far beyond simple phones, and we rarely use them in that way. They’ve become our personal assistants, banking machines, and entertainment systems, and we tap at our screens to check in on our calendars, finances, and favourite games far more often than making a call.

Many of us would be lost without these apps. (Quite literally for those who rely on Google Maps to get around the GTA). And who hasn’t ignored a call in order to beat that last level of Candy Crush? Every company, website, and news agency has one. These self-contained programs have simplified online browsing by eliminating the need to navigate awkward, mobile-unfriendly sites and given us an easy button to click as soon as we want to check our schedules or the latest March Madness scores.

But these apps don’t just give everything and expect nothing in return. Every time you download an app, you’re giving them permission to use your personal information. In some cases, this exchange is totally legit — in others not so much. One wrong click and you could be sharing too much without even realizing it. That’s why we’ve created a quick guide to using your favourite apps properly.

  1. Only Download From Trusted Sources

There’s a reason why the App Store and Play Store come pre-downloaded on every iPhone and Android device. These official app stores vet all of the applications before they put them on their catalogue. Whether they’re free or come at a price, Apple and Google work hard to keep unusual or suspicious software away from their customers. If you attempt to download an app from another source, you run the risk of exposing your PI. These apps’ successful download usually hinge on disabling your privacy settings, so they can have access to things they don’t need.

  1. Question The Access They Get

Even trusted apps that come from Apple or Google can have some questionable conditions. Is there any reason why your tip calculator should have access to your media files, camera, or microphone? Maybe, and they should clearly explain how they intend to use this information. Don’t worry if you’re having second thoughts after the download is complete. You can always go into the app’s settings and remove their access from this information.

  1. Don’t Download At Starbucks

We have nothing against the Seattle coffee company, but we do take issue with their free Wi-Fi. These complimentary wireless networks may seem like a good idea when you want to post your latte on Instagram, but using them comes with risks. Unrestricted access means anyone can use these networks, and all it takes is some guile to abuse them. If you feel compelled to use these free networks, make sure you use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to conceal your online activities from those who know how to snoop.

  1. Always Accept Updates

We’ve all ignored that software update for longer than we care to admit. The time it takes to download and the subtle changes it causes to our beloved devices can stop us from making these suggested updates, but they’re offered for a reason. They solve system-wide bugs that can be exploited by cyber criminals to steal your passwords or hold your phone hostage, so if you can’t remember the last time you did, it’s time to update.

  1. Always Recycle Your Old Smartphone

With the releases of the iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy S8 on the horizon this year, many Canadians will be hoping to upgrade to the latest smartphone money can buy. If you plan on pre-ordering any of the phones slated for release this year, make sure you take care of your old one properly. Many people think it safe to sell or donate their old gadgets after they’ve deleted all of their files, but like any electronic, your phone retains personal information even after a system-wide wipe. That means your photos, contact information, and app data can be retrieved. If you use your smartphone, tablet, or laptop for work, you should invest in our electronic data destruction. Our NAID-approved methods destroy the chips still powering your old gadgets, so there’s no possible way to retrieve personal information.

For any of us with a smartphone, apps are just a way of life. You shouldn’t feel worried about the apps you download to your iPhone or Pixel, but you should display caution before you allow any of these programs access to your personal information. As vital as our phones have become over the last decade, our privacy is more important. Follow our tips on how to avoid exposing your data, and remember to call us when you’re ready to upgrade to a new device.

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