Apps used to be fun add-ons to get the most out of your phone. Today, they are essential for our daily communication, our work and our leisure time.
Unfortunately, it seems like every week there is another list of bad apps causing headaches or putting your safety at risk. Fake cryptocurrencies and financial apps are crooks’ last chance. Tap or click warning signs that the app you trust is a sham.
While we’re on the subject of smartphone security, there are five tweaks every iPhone user should make. Tap or click the steps to see which apps are spying, hide your location, and close access to your camera roll.
Now is the time to open your list of apps and start removing scammers.
1. Games and puzzles applications
Most people don’t think much about downloading free jigsaw puzzles and games apps. But, unfortunately, it can come back to bite you in a big way when malware and other dangerous code lurk.
Apps that spread malware want to reach as many people as possible, so it’s not uncommon to see ads for them on social media. This includes games called Rugby Pass, Flying Skateboard, and Plant Monster. Tap or click for a full list of 21 bad gaming apps you need to remove from your device.
It’s not just malware. Most games collect a lot more information than you might think. For example, take the very popular words with friends.
This game collects the following data: purchases, contact details, user content, IDs, diagnostics, location, contacts, browning history, usage and “other data”. I’ll stick to real Scrabble.
With precise cropping and automatic light adjustments, this scanner app quickly became popular. CamScanner even has an ID scan template, so employees completing new hire documents can quickly scan and download sensitive documents.
Now wait a minute before trusting this free app with your driver’s license, financial documents, and social security number.
In 2019, cybersecurity researchers found malicious code in the Android version of the PDF Creator app. The wrong code was from a third-party ad library. The app was updated, removing the offending SDK, and then returned to the Google Play Store. Still, you can choose to stay away because you don’t need to.
What can you use instead? For iPhone users, the preinstalled Notes app does everything you need when it comes to scanning. Tap or click for pro tips to get the most out of it.
For Android, try the Google Drive app. Hit it plus icon in the corner, then press Analysis. Easy!
3. Application of summary astronomy
Astrology Allows You To Look In The Stars To See Why you are as you are. Well, maybe. But download Astro Guru: Astrology, Horoscope & Palmistry, and you are ready for a lot of data sharing.
Checkpoint search claims that the app, which has over 10 million downloads, failed to properly lock down user data, including usernames, birthdates, gender, location, e- addresses mail and payment details. Ouch. The best is to get rid of it.
DIGITAL CLEANING: Delete old accounts that you don’t use, empty your photo gallery, and clean your browser settings. Tap or click for simple steps to do all of this and more.
4. Find another way to fax
Here’s another find from research firm Check Point Research. iFax is a popular application that lets you send, you guessed it, faxes right from your phone.
Researchers discovered exposed cloud storage access keys that provided access to faxed documents. As a result, malicious actors could access documents sent by the more than 500,000 users of the application. This could be a very bad thing if you send, for example, signed financial documents containing sensitive information.
Are you looking for an alternative? FaxZero is free if you send no more than five faxes per day and only three pages at a time. There is a FaxZero ad on the cover page, but that doesn’t matter much. To send up to 25 pages per day without ads, it costs $ 1.99 per page.
If you need to receive a fax, eFax gives you a virtual fax number to receive up to 10 faxed pages per month for free. There are paid options, of course, if you upgrade to the free plan.
Not all free is after your personal information. Tap or click to get 15 free tech upgrades.
5. Say no to that logo maker
Check Point Research found another application with an open real-time database: Logo Maker – Free Graphic Design & Logo Templates. The free app has a ton of downloads and great reviews. You would never know that he could expose your information to anyone who is willing to seek it out.
This includes email addresses, passwords, usernames, and user IDs. Consider this a great reminder to set up unique logins for all of your accounts, even apps that you may not have much access to.
Imagine downloading Logo Maker and setting the same password you use for your bank’s website. Once a criminal gets a hold of your password, it’s easy to verify other accounts using the same credentials.
Looking for priceless Photoshop photo editing software? Browse a list of free alternatives for each skill level.
6. An unsecured screen recorder
Recording your screen may be more convenient than taking a static screenshot, but be careful how you do the job. Screen Recorder, which has over 10 million downloads, exposes recordings made by users. Check Point indicates that the app stores screen recordings on a cloud service. It’s convenient, but the researchers say “there can be serious implications if developers integrate secret and access keys into the same service that stores these records.”
Effectively, the Check Point research team recovered the keys that opened access to each stored record.
Of course, you don’t need a separate app for this. The functionality is built right into your phone. Tap or click on the steps to record your iPhone screen. Tap or click to save to your Android.
7. Data-hungry Facebook
Think about the value of your data to big tech companies. Otherwise, why would they give you access to so many services for free? Facebook is a prime example. Here is a bit of what the application follows:
- Your contacts, call logs and SMS
- Your location
- Your internal storage
- Your camera and microphone
Facebook wants extended access to your device. He wants to track where you’re going (online and in person), what you’re looking for, and what you’re buying. Then it uses that data to deliver targeted advertising to you. Ads don’t bother you? Very good. But Facebook is no stranger to data breaches, either.
Earlier this year, 533 million Facebook user records were exposed. Tap or click here for a tool you can use to check if Facebook has disclosed your information.
8. QR code readers
When you download a third-party scanning app, you are messing up your phone. Yet, many people gravitate towards these programs. So instead of rolling the dice and giving up even more personal information, use your phone’s built-in resources.
On Android, open your camera app, point it at a QR code and hold it steady for a few seconds.
If a notification appears, tap it. If you don’t receive a notification, go to Settings and activate Scanning QR Codes.
To scan a QR code on your iPhone, open the camera app and hover over the code. Your smartphone will automatically direct you to the code link.
Did you know that QR codes are an easy way to share your Wi-Fi password without having to enter it? Tap or click here for instructions to set it up.
9. More than just dance moves
TikTok is famous for its fast-paced viral videos, ranging from dances to dangerous stunts. But when kids argue over the most viral influence, they go out of their way. 10-year-old Italian woman choked to death in viral ‘blackout challenge’ AP News reported.
All parents should know the dangers of TikTok. Your child may tell you that they use TikTok to hang out with friends and dance, but every child is sensitive to peer pressure. If they see social media stars they admire participating in dangerous games, they may want to follow in the footsteps of the crowd, often to the detriment of their safety.
If you have a kid at home, say goodbye to TikTok. Even if you use it on your phone, kids can be inspired to download it themselves.
10. Turn it on
When smartphones first came out, flashlight apps were a must. Not anymore since this feature is built into phones now.
Many app designers have added some shiny new features to keep users around and keep tracking all this data. Take the iTorch Flashlight for iPhone, for example. The free app tracks your location, personal identifiers, usage data, and diagnostic information. It’s a lot to give up just to use a flashlight.
Bottom line: Ditch flashlight apps on Apple or Android phones. You don’t need it and your native flashlight app is just as good.
Got more photos than you know what to do with? Discover my podcast “Kim Komando Explains” on Apple, Google Podcasts, or your favorite podcast player.
In a trending episode, I dive into the best ways to remove all junk files and duplicates – like memes and screenshots – by hiding the important images you want to keep. Plus, how to back up and store your collection for easy browsing and long term storage.
Tap or click here now to listen to my “Too many photos?” Podcast Insider tips for organizing, sorting, and storing for the long haul.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s National Radio Show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen or watch The Kim Komando show on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.