5 Common Apps that Put Your Privacy at Risk—Are You Using One?

2017-05-11 08_54_11-811px x 401px – DON’T GIVE AWAY YOUR INFO

You’re probably aware that the number of apps that are available today makes it impossible not to have at least some of your personal data stored somewhere online. Everyone uses these apps, and whether they realize it or not, the apps do take something in return. However, there’s a difference in using your data so that the app can work better, and stealing and exposing your privacy. Some of the apps that are available are literally stealing your photos, messages, or even reporting your exact location to their creators, and that’s not something that should be tolerable.

Today, we’ve prepared a list of 5 types of apps that are most likely to steal your data and send it to someone who’s going to sell it. So be aware, and don’t let them make money of your privacy. Learn this list by heart, and warn others of them as well:

Period trackers, including Glow

It’s believed by many that any sort of information that can be traced back to an individual should be considered sensitive data. This especially includes apps that are related to the sexual history of a person or their menstrual cycles. Some of these apps, like Glow, have shown very little interest in protecting their users’ privacy, and the security of the app itself was so weak, that literally, anyone with a computer who didn’t have anything to do for a couple of hours could get everything about this kind of information from Glow users. The privacy settings were updated after these findings were made public, but it’s shocking how much of this info can be available to complete strangers, only if they try to get it, while the consumers believe that their privacy is safe.

Utility apps, including the Brightest Flashlight

Not many would expect that they should be afraid of apps that provide their smartphones with flashlights. However, this could very well be the case, and the Brightest Flashlight app is the proof. Several years ago, they were accused of stealing info like GPS locations and unique device identifier and selling that data to third parties.

This is a major breach of users’ privacy, and it shouldn’t be allowed. The worst thing is that people simply continued downloading the app, and allowed the company to make money while exploiting their data. This has even less sense, considering that the most phones have a built-in flashlight, and we recommend using that one, instead of allowing companies like this to earn while selling your privacy.

Starbucks and loyalty apps

Many users consider Starbucks app to be very useful when it comes to ordering your drink, but it was still found to be stealing their sensitive info. They even dared to store your email and password info, which leaves you wide open for hacking. This is a major privacy breach, and it’s even worse if you’ve stored the credit card info on their app. You might be using the card to pay for your order while someone else is collecting that info at the same time.

Dating apps, like MeetMe, AffairD, and others

Filling in apps used for online dating is already awkward enough, and then people found out that those same apps are taking way more than they should. Not only that, but they’re also analyzing the data they collect and then sell it on, all without your consent, of course. This was discovered even in popular apps like MeetMe. The same goes for AffairD, which leaves you wide open for spying on after they’ve done with you.

Pretty much every fitness app out there

A lot of people have found it to be suspicious that insurance companies are offering major discounts to those who are known to use fitness trackers. At first, it was believed that they’re trying to encourage physical activity. After a while, people figured out that they’re more interested in collecting data on your fitness habits and progress.
Privacy flaws were found on pretty much every single fitness app, no exceptions. They’re giving away your GPS, have weak security settings, and leave you extremely vulnerable. Even the famous Apple Watch has some of those security issues, even though its security was said to be of ultimate quality. It also offers updates only through HTTP, instead of using HTTPS which would protect you and your data. On the other hand, even though it’s flawed, it’s still better than the rest of these apps.

4 ways to protect you privacy

Having your data stored is one thing, and it’s bad enough, but having your data sold to third parties is out of the question. Studies showed that the most of the mined data relate to email addresses in the case of Android devices, and GPS location when it comes to iPhone users. In both cases, you should not allow this to continue, and we offer four ways to stop this data theft:

Use VPN and keep it on at all times

VPNs are one of the easiest ways to get the job done and keep your privacy private. The encryptions that they offer should provide you with complete protection, or at least make you less vulnerable when it comes to hackers and snoopers. In this case, we recommend TorGuard as the best one, and our top choice for Android and iPhone protection.

Use fake emails

It’s probably a good idea to have at least two email addresses so that you can use one for the apps, and the other one for the things that matter. Having important data on one email, and then having your security breached by an app isn’t exactly good for you.

Check what your apps are trying to access

If you’re not sure about which of your apps can access the Google account, you can find out relatively easily. Just go to Google’s security page, and find Connected Sites & Apps. Click on the link, and you’ll be able to check. Then it all comes down to choosing which of them actually need this access, and which of them should be removed as the data-sucking leeches that they are.

Regularly update your apps

You should try and make updating apps one of your habits since they’re often releasing new patches and features that not only fix your security but also offer much better experience.

After all of this, you’re probably suspicious of a lot of your apps. And that is perfectly okay. In fact, you should be, because you must never think that the companies have your interests as their priorities. Even when you’re downloading free apps, you’re paying for them in some way, just not with money. This is the age where companies can make a lot more money from your information, than from selling you the app. That’s why there are so many free ones out there, and keep in mind that with every one of them you download, you’re sacrificing a bit more of your own privacy.

The good thing is that the companies like Apple and Google are slowly starting to force the app makers to create apps that’ll only use HTTPS. And while this is good news for you, it’s a bad one for the companies, which is why they’re making the process really slow. Still, that will come to pass soon as well, and that’s one more step towards real security.

Ali is a freelance journalist with 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.

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