How to Protect Your Data from Insecure Apps

Internet Applications have accelerated e-commerce worldwide and helped transform online businesses over the past decade. However, these are not always secure and can, at times, contain malicious codes, Adware, Trojans, etc., that can leak out the user’s personal data.

If you are wondering why you should bother about this, then you must know that insecure applications may contain malicious codes, through which miscreants can gain access to almost anything on your device — SMS, user activity, location, and even your banking passwords.

There have been cases where cybercriminals have sneaked in some malicious code into a weather application and intercepted messages of the users, to outsmart the 2-factor authentication required by most banks. Although malware and malicious code can sneak in with almost any application, the risk only increases in the case of loyalty applications. Let’s now check out why that happens.

Why are Loyalty Apps a soft target?

Since loyalty applications carry the goodwill of a brand name, these are generally considered to be trustworthy — something that seems to inspire cybercriminals into exploiting these applications.  As a result, loyalty applications continue to be replicated and infected by these threat actors. 

Every year, over a billion dollars, are lost due to security issues connected to loyalty applications, which most users tend to trust blindly. Some are even lured into downloading and installing it for the many perks that come with it — discounts, pre-sale notifications, latest updates and more.

Recently, Flipboard, the popular news aggregation application disclosed two security breaches — one in April 2019 and the other one between June 2018 and March 2019. During this period, the user data of over 1.5 million users remained vulnerable. However, the matter did not go overboard because Flipboard does not collect financial and banking details from its users and makes use of salted hashes. Likewise, the usernames and passwords of DD Perks, which runs the reward offers for Dunkin’ Donuts, were hacked. However, the breach was reportedly stopped midway by the company’s cybersecurity service provider.

 7 Tips to protect your Data from Insecure Apps

 1. Look for a Code Signing Certificate

Before you download an application, you ought to verify its authenticity to ensure that it is original and not a misleading replica. The most reliable yardstick to measure the authenticity of an application is the code signing certificate. This certificate signs the code of application, software and ensure users that the code has not been changed/modified since it is signed.

The code signing certificate does precisely what the SSL certificate does for a website — it verifies and confirms the authenticity of the application’s ownership, credentials. So, if an application has a code signing certificate, then it is a lot more secure than one that doesn’t.

Code signing certificates add an extra layer of security and form a basis on which the user can decide. As it makes use of cryptography to connect the identity of the developer to the application, it makes it more trustworthy and authentic. However, if your code is not signed, the users will face warning about illegal or pirated software/ application.

2. Download a Security Application

Cybersecurity applications like Norton, AVG, Avast regularly update their databases with the latest cyber threats and protect devices to a great extent. So, go ahead and choose from the several security applications available, but make it a point to update it regularly. If you skip doing that, then your application becomes obsolete, and you may continue to remain vulnerable to possible threats.

3. Download Application Locking App

While Avast, Norton, and Avira can detect and eliminate malware from your device, there are also specific other security applications like Sophos that let you lock out specific applications.  A point to note is that an application locking app is quite different from a screen locking app. While the prior locks the access of applications, the latter only locks the screen of the device. So, if you were considering ignoring this measure, then think again.

4. Know your Publishers

If you are a gaming buff, then you probably know your favourite application publishing company and the same goes for any other type of application. Leading application publishers don’t mess with the security of their users, so if you like PUBG or Temple Run, then go for it! Always prefer to download app from reliable source and not from 3rd party sources as it may have malware that can target your mobile safety. Stick with more reliable ones with strict policies and support like Google Play, F-Droid, and Apple App Store, but always remember that not all applications out there are going to be safe

6. Read the Reviews

Reading reviews can help you save a lot of trouble because if cybercriminals are out there, then so are security experts that download and install applications. Also, the experiences of other users are going to help, so instead of randomly installing applications, take the time out to do some research before downloading them. Spare sometime to read reviews before downloading an app, as many users prefer to post reviews about their usage of experience about app.

7. Use Google Play Protect for Android Devices

If you don’t have enough time to read through the reviews nor to skim through publisher names, then here’s a quick solution for android devices naming Google Play Protect. It automatically detects anomalies in an application and informs you about the security level of that application, smooth as a pie. It scans applications on regular base and assures you that you have latest security in your mobile.

Your personal data is very precious and can be misused in more ways than one can count. Usually, threat actors collect all the data that they can get their hands on and sell it through the dark web. It does not always include sensitive data, such as personal information or banking data. It may also contain non-sensitive data such as user activity, as in the case of Flipboard. While nothing’s safe in the cyber world, we firmly believe that code signing through cryptography works wonders.