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Safeguarding Your Information in the Age of the App

Posted on October 28, 2016

There’s no denying that Apple has completely changed the way we interact with and think about software, especially on mobile devices. Nearly a decade after its release, the App Store serves up hundreds of thousands of apps that are downloaded billions of times by people around the world. Even the word “app” itself entered our vocabularies largely as a result of mobile software.

Today, “apps” even appear on desktop computers, from Google Chrome’s store to Microsoft’s focus on desktop-based apps. The ease of installation — often just a few clicks — means that installing a new app takes less time, effort, and thought, than ever before. While the added usability is excellent for end users, are we sacrificing security in exchange for those benefits?

With the proliferation of apps comes the unwanted attentions of hackers and digital thieves. Both Google and Apple work to maintain stringent security standards on the store, but malicious software still makes regular appearances. Not only must we take care to avoid these threats, but we must also be mindful of how apps use our personal information. It’s altogether too easy to share a wealth of data with third parties without realizing.

The solution is to pay careful attention to the permissions you grant to apps as well as what you choose to download. Apple makes it simple to control how much access your apps have — just view each app in “Settings” and modify their permissions. Before you grant an app permission to your data in the first place, though, you should understand why it needs access and what it wants. For example, many apps request your location data, but rarely is it truly necessary for proper app function. Segregate your personal and sensitive information as much as possible. Avoid downloading apps without first doing some background homework, and never use apps not approved by Apple.

Protect all your digital information across platforms as well. Do you store any of your data in cloud services like iCloud? Be sure to enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. Dropping in this additional security makes the possibility of someone compromising your account much less likely. In combination with strong passwords and thoughtful security, you can protect your information. In a world that increasingly relies on apps for everything from ordering food to conducting banking, that kind of security is priceless.

With increasing concerns about identity theft and cyber crime, it’s worth taking a moment to consider your own habits. Security begins with a personal choice to protect your information. As apps continue to take their place in our digital society, always remember to do your homework.

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