Installing a new app? Rediff.com's Ashish Narsale shows you how to do it safely.
IMAGE: Before downloading an app, verify its authenticity and safety features. Photograph: Courtesy bruce mars/Pexels.com
1. Download the app from a reputed/designated app store
Every application has an official website or source from where you can directly download it to your phone. For example, if you are downloading a banking app, make sure you are downloading it from the official banking website. Double check or verify the authenticity of the website from where you are downloading the app.
Depending on your mobile operating system most of the sites redirect you to the respective Apple/ Android app stores.
Again, the official app stores are also not 100 per cent safe. Android being open source code, it’s easier for hackers to develop spyware or malware that would easily pass through Google’s strict checking.
Make sure you research thoroughly before installing the app.
2. Do not download and install apps from third party websites
Some of your favourite apps may be available on third party sites but not on the official app stores. The reason may be that official app stores remove the apps that do not meet their security conditions.
Do not download the full working version of apps or games that come free because you expose your smartphone to risks from unwarranted sources.
Remember nothing comes free. The app might contain malware like Trojans hidden behind the working app and will get installed automatically when you install the app.
The malware will send your private information to the hacker or take control of your phone and you won’t even know.
3. Before downloading an app, please read the reviews/comments posted by other users
Before you download a new app, always read the reviews/comments posted by users who have tried the app.
There will be both negative and positive comments which will help you decide whether you should download the app or not.
Look for notes about the app's ease of use, stability and bugs, if any.
4. Always check the average ratings of the app
If an application has been rated over four stars (out of five), it suggests that there are people who have used and liked the app.
If the ratings are below two stars, it could mean several things -- the app is not popular, not useful or needs to be improved.
5. Check the number of downloads
The number of downloads shows you how popular the app is.
6. Check the app permissions
This is the most important feature to look out for.
Before installing an app, please go through the app's permission details given in the ‘About this app’ option.
All apps ask for permissions to access to your phone’s hardware (like camera, GPS, storage, microphone, etc) and OS (SMS, contacts, calendar and others) related features. Some apps allow to choose the features you want to allow and deny access to.
Android users will find this information at the bottom under the 'About the app' section under advanced settings.
7. Installing unknown apps
In your phone’s settings, search for ‘install unknown apps’ or ‘Unknown source’ and disable the permission.
This setting will block unknown or hidden apps from being installed on your phone.
8. Avoid installing shared apps
It is recommended that you avoid installing apps shared through e-mail, messengers, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Such apps from unknown or less reputed sources may contain malware or viruses.