How to stay safe while using mobile apps?
In this digital era, most of us hold smartphones, and we each have countless apps stored on them! Now, which application do you most frequently access when you are using your phone? For me, I always have a standard set that I ritually open at the start of each day- Instagram, WhatsApp, and of course, my Gmail! 😅

Also as a Muslim, I would have a prayer app to check prayer times, a Quran app for reading a digital copy of the Quran, and a Qibla app to check the Qibla direction whenever I am in an unfamiliar place. This is like the golden trio that keeps me confident of keeping my obligations as a Muslim in check, no matter where I go…

However, after a recent scare where a popular Muslim prayer app was found to be sharing our personal, private data with third-party companies, I started being aware and cautious of the apps I store on my phone.

I did a quick research online and found that 75% of apps would not pass even a basic security test while 83% of apps have at least one security flaw. Additionally, mobile security vulnerabilities are found in 91 - 95% percent of iOS and Android apps. This scares me the most! 😨

With this crazy percentage of apps having a risk of a security breach, is it even possible for the apps that I download to be safe to use? Can I even have control of what I share with the app? How can I maintain my privacy even while downloading all these apps that I need?

As I do not want to compromise my privacy and want to protect my data online, I found a few quick and easy techniques to implement. Even if I may not be able to eliminate the risks 100%, these methods certainly helped me control the personal information that I share online:

Create a Strong Password

If an app asks me to create a profile with a password, I would set a very strong password which consists of a mixture of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols. Yes, yes, I know. It’s very difficult to memorize passwords, even more so strong ones! So sometimes I store it somewhere (either a password app or old-school style on a piece of paper in a locked drawer…)

  This is my No. 1 strategy that I use to prevent anyone from accessing my profile easily. Plus, I frequently change my passwords for my most-used applications to ensure double the security of my profile!

Close GPS tracking

I don’t see the use of having the GPS function open all the time, other than while using Google Maps. So, I keep my GPS turned off most of the time. This eliminates the chances of having unknown parties accessing my location.

Delete Unused Apps and Update the Rest

Research shows that almost half of apps downloaded are not used regularly. So after I heard about the security breach incident, I decided to delete applications that I do not use and keep my regularly used apps up to date as it improves the performance and ensures better security online.

Be Aware of Permissions

On some occasions, the mobile apps that I downloaded have requested permission to access data on my phone that was not even related to the function of the app. Some requested unnecessary access to my phone gallery or access to my contacts.

Since I realised all apps cannot be trusted, I ensure that I understand the permission request fully and carefully to eliminate any risk of breach.

These techniques that I have adopted have significantly reduced the risk of losing control over my private data. But one question remains - How can I choose secure apps?

So as a grand finale to the topic, ALWAYS, ALWAYS choose apps that do not collect your data over the ones that do, if you can help it!