I’m sure you already know this but as a friendly reminder, there are apps in both Google Play and in Apple’s App Store that are not safe to use. In fact, you may have an App sitting on your phone that is taking advantage of you right now and might not even realize it.
Most recently the FlixOnline App from the Google Play store made headlines, promising free Netflix video streaming to mobile devices. If you or someone you know downloaded it, be sure to remove the App right now. It was on the Play store for around 2 months and once it gets installed, the App starts monitoring the phone for anything important such as notifications, messages, passwords and other apps it can take over.
In fact, if WhatsApp is on the device, FlixOnline takes over the account and sends notifications to all contacts recommending they download the malicious app and continue the spread.
A good portion of malware infested emails and Apps promise free content or a discount on products and services. Don’t fall for it! Unless the offer is directly from the manufacturer, avoid the temptation of free products, discounts and limited time offers, especially when it involves downloading and installing a suspicious App.
The problem is, with the number of apps available on the Play store growing daily it can be really hard to decide which ones to trust. Even if you have Google Play Protect enabled. Here are 3 things to check before downloading any App:
1. Don’t trust user reviews
They’re often fake, bought or from unreliable sources. Scammers want to bait victims into downloading their App, then make money by showing ads or by straight up stealing personal information and selling it on the black market.
2. Check those permissions
Suspicious Apps usually ask for excessive access to your phone, such as GPS location, contacts, calendar, device storage, camera, microphone and call history. Typically an App asking for this much access to your personal data is a big red flag.
3. Go with a name you know
When in doubt, Google it! A quick Google search usually reveals if the App you’re thinking about downloading has been red-flagged by other users on the internet and hasn’t yet been taken off the Play store. Either way, stick with a trustworthy name and you’ll minimize the risk of an issue.
Have you come across a suspicious App you want us to check out? Reach out and let us know – we can investigate it for you.
Stay safe out there.
PS. I was recently on the air with Jay Fidell of ThinkTech, talking about this year’s tax scams.