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Using mobile apps safely and securely

Posted on Friday, January 5th, 2018 in Cyber Security

10 years ago if you had mentioned the word ‘application’, people would presume that you were talking about a job application or filling out a form. Yet in today’s ever insistent technological society, mention the word ‘application’ and people will presume you are referring to the apps that we install on our mobile devices.

In the digital era that we now live in, mobile applications provide us with a bundle of services and benefits, whether it’s communicating with friends, shopping for the latest gadget, navigating to a business meeting or even catching up on the latest episode of Top Gear. They have become a fundamental part of everyday life, in some cases becoming a necessity, redefining the manner in which we operate as human beings.

Since the mobile app ecosystem was launched in 2008, mobile users are now spoilt for choice with downloadable applications, with the Google Play Store offering over 3.3 million apps. An estimated 197 billion mobile apps were downloaded throughout 2017, projected to rise to 352 billion by 2021, exemplifying the development and growth of mobile applications over such a short time period.

Despite the rise in mobile app utilisation, the security and safety of mobile applications has become a growing concern. It is expected that 75% of mobile apps would fail a basic security test as a consequence of not having basic security protocols in place. This has opened up a new window of opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit; increasing information security vulnerabilities for mobile devices and its users.

With this in mind, courtesy of Get Safe Online, here are 10 top tips to help keep you safe when downloading and using mobile apps:

  • Use only official app stores
  • Avoid downloading fraudulent or otherwise illegitimate apps by using only the official store for your device’s operating system, and avoiding unauthorised sources such as bulletin boards and peer-to-peer networks.

  • Read the small print
  • When downloading apps, you’re usually asked to agree to terms and conditions. These can be quite lengthy and complex, but it’s important to do so as some small print includes details on data sharing, in-app payments and other conditions.

  • Know what permissions you’re granting
  • You may be asked for permission for an app to access your location, photos, camera, contacts or other functions or data. Before agreeing, think about if you really want this type of access enabled, and the safety aspects of others knowing what you’re doing and where you are (especially important for children).

  • Check settings
  • Where possible, check app settings to determine whether downloading updates and day-to-day data are enabled automatically. This may be convenient, but it could also make it easier for your data to be intercepted, and may use up your data allowance.

  • Use public Wi-Fi safely
  • When you’re out and about, remember that you shouldn’t use Wi-Fi hotspots for confidential communications or transactions in places like cafés, pubs and hotel rooms, as there’s no guarantee of security. Instead, use your data, or wait until you get back to your secure Wi-Fi.

  • Always log out
  • When you’ve finished using an app – particularly one for banking, shopping or payments – always log out, as simply closing the app may not necessarily do it for you. This also goes for location-based apps, when you want to keep your whereabouts to yourself.

  • Download updates
  • Always download app updates when prompted, because as well as providing new features and better functionality, updates usually contain at least one security fix.

  • Look after your devices
  • With today’s apps, your mobile device becomes a computer, wallet, satnav, photo album, TV, filing cabinet, and much more. You shouldn’t leave any of these items in an unlocked house or vehicle, or unattended in a café or on a train …your mobile device is no different. And always PIN or password-protect your device as a first line of security.

  • Keep an eye on those bills
  • Be aware of the data used by apps when you’re out and about, including roaming charges abroad. And remember that some apps enable in-app purchases, which can be very attractive to use – especially to children – but at a price.

  • Do your housekeeping
  • Filling your phone or tablet with dozens of apps you don’t use can affect its performance, including reducing battery life. Remove the ones you haven’t used for a while, apart from security apps. If you’re disposing of your phone by any means, erase all data and apps, also preferably doing a factory re-set.


    Here at Bob’s Business we are committed to not only keeping users safe in the workplace but also when they are on the move. Get in touch to request a free demo of our mobile working module to help ensure that your staff are safe whilst working on the go.

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