EVERYONE who owns a smartphone should be wary of two types of apps.
Cyber experts have issued a malware alert for Android and iPhone owners around the world.
Apps can appear to offer legitimate services but stealthily infect your device with malware.
This can even be true in official stores like the Apple App Store for iOS or the Google Play Store for Android.
The type of “rogue” app can vary, but cyber experts told The US Sun that two categories of apps are very commonly chosen to infect your device.
“Performance-enhancing and cleaner apps are notorious for harboring malware and spyware,” Paul Bischoff, consumer protection officer at Comparitech, told us.
They are a popular choice for hackers for several reasons.
First off, you wouldn’t be surprised if a “cleaner” or “performance” app requires permission to access parts of your phone like files or photos.
And secondly, it can be difficult for a user to tell if it’s really working – so you might not be suspicious.
“These apps supposedly require high-level permissions to do their jobs, but they also give attackers a strong foothold,” Paul warned.
“In reality, most cleaner and performance-enhancing apps are useless.”
If you have “cleaner” or “more powerful” apps on your device, you should definitely consider deleting them.
There are many legitimate ways to free up storage space or improve phone performance without relying on special apps.
Dangerous “malware” apps can steal your money – or steal enough private information to scam or blackmail you.
You should be extremely careful when downloading anything onto your smartphone: think about how much personal data you store on it.
How to identify unsafe apps
There are many red flags that an app on your device is up to no good.
First, it’s very risky if the app was “sideloaded” – or downloaded from somewhere other than the Google Play Store.
Google uses the Play Store to distribute apps on Android – and most of the apps there are perfectly safe.
However, if you download apps from elsewhere, you put yourself at greater risk for scam apps.
“The app was not downloaded from a trusted Google Play Store or Apple Store,” said Dr. Klaus Schenk, vice president of security at Verimatrix, told The US Sun last month.
“Even with brand manufacturers like Samsung, there can be high rates of app spoofing and malware.”
Second, if you have been forced to download the app, you should worry.
If a suspicious person is urging you to download an app — or has offered you a reward that seems too good to be true — then you may be in danger.
“They were persuaded to install the app by someone, an SMS or a website,” said Dr. Schenk.
“Be wary of unsolicited app download requests.”
The third warning sign is when an app asks for suspicious permissions.
Apps often need access to sensitive parts of your phone.
For example, Instagram might need your camera or photos, and Uber might need location access.
But when an app makes strange requests, that’s a bad sign.
“The app is asking for permissions that don’t match the app’s use case,” said Dr. Schenk.
“For example, if a calculator app asks permission to access your contacts or camera, that can be a red flag.”