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A Guide To App Permissions

Data is a valuable commodity to businesses in today’s tech lead world and whilst we may want to keep our data to ourselves our phones make this increasingly difficult. Without even realising it, we often permit apps to access all kinds of data including our location, photos and contacts. But it isn’t just our data we give access to. Apps often have access to our microphone which can have huge consequences should bad actors exploit this access. With all this in mind, it is important to take some cyber security measures by understanding and managing your app permissions.

What Are the Risks?

If an app does not have sufficient penetration testing, they could be susceptible to hackers. This means cybercriminals can exploit the app and take advantage of the permissions you have given it. Similarly, if you do not follow good cyber security practices you could leave yourself vulnerable.

App permissions give apps access to all manner of data and device features. By granting camera and microphone permissions, for example, bad actors would be able to record (without your knowledge). Even access to something you may find innocuous, like your calendar, could have significant consequences. Such permissions allow the app to view and edit your calendar. If cybercriminals can get access to this, they may get a hold of sensitive information. Whilst granting access to your contacts could result in them being collected and used for phishing scams. A wide range of permissions pose potential risks if the wrong people get access to them, so it is important that we grant permissions sparingly and look to reduce our risk exposure.

How To Reduce Your Risk

Thankfully you have more control than you might think. You can remove certain permissions for certain apps and reduce your exposure to potential risks. If you don’t want an app to know your location or have access to your contact list, you can usually change these without affecting the app’s performance. To do this access your app permissions and edit them through your device’s settings. How you do this will vary depending on your device.

How To Find App Permissions

Apple Devices (iPhone And iPad Etc.)

To edit permissions on an Apple devices, go into Settings and scroll down to the list of apps. You can click on each app to view its permissions and can edit the permissions you allow from here too.

Android Device

For android devices (android 6.0 and above) go to Settings then Apps and notifications. Click on the app you want and then press Permissions. From here you can edit which permissions you give the app.

Before allowing permissions, make sure you read what the permissions the app is requesting are. Not all permissions are necessary for the app to function properly. After installing or updating an app check the app permissions in your settings to make sure the app wasn’t granted any unauthorised permissions. Which permissions you allow is entirely up to you although it is a good idea to be sparing with more risky permissions like those discussed earlier. If you want to be extra secure you can limit permissions to the bare minimum to run an app without losing functionality – this will vary from app to app.

Our phones are a fundamental part of our lives. They collate everything in one place. Everything from a calculator to search engines can be accessed on these brilliant little devices but they are not all good. Whilst apps make our lives easier and entertainment more accessible, they also make cybercrimes more prevalent. Apps request access to all kinds of features and data which can become quite profitable to cybercriminals if they can exploit the permissions you give apps. By using the tips in this guide you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of a cybercrime and keep more of your data out of others’ hands.

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