Smartphones are smarter than ever. These days, you can download apps that will help you do almost anything. The number of apps available for iOS and Android is mindboggling and new, innovative apps continue to flood the market. Now, what you once did on a desktop or laptop, you can do on a smartphone with ease. Convenient? Of course, but there are downsides – like privacy violations on apps.
The number of apps and their capabilities will likely grow and become more complex. But, there’s a dirty, little secret that app makers don’t want you to know. Some apps share your closely guarded data with third parties for monetization purposes. While you’re using the app, the app is quietly, and without your knowledge, collecting your data, including your location.
Is Your Information Safe?
How can this be? When you download apps, many request access to your location while you’re using the app. It sounds innocent enough, but some app makers sell your personal information to make extra revenue, all without your knowledge. In fact, according to an article in Scientific American, seven out of 10 app makers share user data with third parties.
Unfortunately, app makers don’t exactly advertise that they’re collecting and selling your information, so how do you know? Researchers use special tools to monitor traffic and determine who’s collecting data on users and they’ve discovered, it’s not an isolated event. Dozens of app makers quietly collect data and give third-party sources access to the information. The number of people who are inadvertently having their private information shared with third parties is in the millions.
What Do Third-Parties Do With Your Information?
Many of the companies sharing your data sound innocent enough. An example of one such company is NOAA Weather Radar. Have you ever checked the weather online? If so, you might have used an app like this to do it. Weather apps have to know your location to give you an accurate weather report. Previously, when you allowed NOAA Weather Radar to access your location, they conveniently sent the data to three third-party firms. In their defense, they claim this was a practice they ended after a brief test.
Unfortunately, you can’t even trust apps that declare they won’t share your information. For example, ASKfm is a question-and-answer app that’s popular with teens. When you access the app, they ask for your location but clearly state they won’t share your private information with anyone. Yet, they don’t follow through on that promise. Rather they forward the data to two independent data firms.
These are only a few examples, and there are many more out there. Why is this practice so common? It’s because app makers are out to make money, and it comes at your expense. What can you do about it? One way is to fight back with apps that help reduce privacy violations on apps. What are some options?
Guardian Mobile Firewall App (available in late Fall of 2018)
This multi-purpose app protects your privacy in several ways. For example, when you use an app, Guardian Mobile Firewall blocks the app’s ability to collect data beyond what’s necessary for the app to run properly. It also serves as a firewall for your mobile phone by monitoring for security threats and vulnerabilities, including malware and phishing schemes. When it finds them, the app protects you against them before they have a chance to interact with your phone. What’s more, the app encrypts passwords, communications, and other sensitive data to keep what you do on your phone private.
DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser (4.8 out of 5 stars) (22.1K ratings)
DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser protects your personal data in a variety of ways. One way is by blocking third-party trackers that collect data. They even reveal who is tracking you so you’re aware of what apps are trying to collect information After downloading DuckDuckGo Privacy browser, the app will assign a privacy grade to any app based on the hidden trackers it finds. This will let you know how aggressively a particular site is tracking you for greater transparency. It also forces sites to connect with you via an encrypted connection when one is available.
Ghostery Privacy Brower (4 out of 5 stars) (14,153 ratings)
With Ghostery Privacy Browser, you’ll get instant feedback on who’s tracking you and your data. You then have the chance to block those that you don’t want. You can also use it to block ads that pop up and interrupt your viewing experience. Enjoy the benefits of private search and the security of knowing the web addresses you visit won’t show up in your history. Ghostery Privacy Browser also offers protection against phishing schemes that can steal your data.
Stay Safe and Private
Yes, apps are out to sell your data. If you value your privacy, protect your data when you search online and when you use apps. These apps add an extra layer of protection and security.