Suspicious apps can be the gateway to malware if installed on the phone. The risk exists even in official download stores such as Google Play Store and App Store, despite the platforms’ advanced protection mechanisms. With this, criminals can gain access to sensitive data, such as media, passwords, and bank details stored on the smartphone, leaving them exposed. However, there are ways to avoid the problem, such as paying attention to app reviews and the developer’s profile. Check the details below.
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Hints help you identify untrustworthy apps for download; see how to increase the protection of your data — Photo: Reproduction/Pexels
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1. Download available on official platforms
The first step to protect against infected apps is to always download them from official stores, such as the Google Play Store for Android devices and the App Store for iOS. Although they still pose risks, the platforms offer greater security to users, since they have systems that evaluate applications before they are made available.
It should be mentioned that there are also many unofficial stores for Android phones and the chances of acquiring apps with malware through them are quite high. However, if you always download from an external service, it is important to use a protection tool that checks the files for possible infections, such as Metadefender.
Homepage of the Google Play Store, official store of Android applications — Photo: Reproduction/Mariana Tralback
2. If the app is updated frequently
Another important factor is to know the update dates of the application, because outdated software can have flaws and open security holes. Therefore, when downloading a new application, make sure that it is frequently updated by the developer, which makes it less vulnerable to attacks.
Also, pay attention to apps that are already installed and check download platforms for recent updates for those. If the process was not done automatically, do it manually to ensure more security.
Demonstration of recent app update dates — Photo: Reproduction/Mariana Tralback
3. If the reputation of the developer is good
Reviewing developer reputation is also a way to find out if an app is safe. Choose the most recognized ones and, if you still have doubts, a good tip is to search for the name of the creator on Google, accompanied by the term “mobile applications”. From the results, you can get more knowledge about the reliability.
In addition, there are other factors to check. If the developer has many applications with few differences between them, such as name or icon color, it may indicate that they were created generically, only for the purpose of stealing information. Also pay attention to information such as the total number of downloads already made — if it’s too low, it’s a warning sign.
Official stores display apps created by developers and the number of downloads they have already made — Photo: Reproduction/Mariana Tralback
4. Check app permissions and privacy policies
When installing an application, it is common for it to ask for certain permissions. Therefore, check if what is requested makes sense with the features of the program. For example, Instagram asks for permission to record audios and capture images, as it is intended for this type of content. If the permissions look suspicious and don’t match the app’s proposition, you should be careful.
This is especially alarming if the requests are related to location, stored files, calls, text messages, or audio/microphone. This can be a way to access data and put sensitive information at risk. So always check the details in the app store before downloading.
Also pay attention to privacy policies because rogue apps hide risks amid terms and conditions because they know most people will accept them without reading them. With this, the user may end up allowing dangerous actions such as data sharing.
Apps display their full whitelists for added security — Photo: Reproduction/Mariana Tralback
5. If recommended by app stores
Another tip is to choose downloadable applications recommended by official stores, which is another guarantee of reliability and security. On the Google Play Store, they carry the “Editors’ Choice” badge and are easily spotted on the store’s homepage. On the App Store, they can be found in the “Today” section.
Google Play Store and App Store recommended app pages — Photo: Reproduction/Mariana Tralback
6. Whether it is rated well by users
Reviewing user reviews is another way to confirm that an app is safe. Before installation, check the returns left on the download pages and learn more about people’s experience. Don’t limit yourself to featured reviews: use filters to check negative reviews. If there are a lot of reviews stating “fake”, don’t take any chances.
Another factor to watch out for is whether there are many short, generic positive reviews that don’t cite specific features, as they may have been left by bots.
Filters for “Reviews” and “Positive” ratings on an app — Photo: Reproduction/Mariana Tralback
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