In an article by Caleb Townsend entitled, “Safe Apps:  How Can You Tell?” from Cybersecurity Magazine on December 4, 2019 he indicated that safe apps can be contaminated through vulnerabilities.  These vulnerabilities allow dangerous malware to present themselves as popular, genuine apps as in the case of “StrandHogg” featured in the Google App Store.

Safe apps are not a guarantee.  These vulnerabilities give hackers access to personal information within your phone and often cross boundaries in their permissions section.  Also, many malware ridden, illegitimate apps target children specifically.  Therefore it is important to recognize the signs of a dangerous app.

Caleb Townsend outlines three things that may help:

  1.  Check the vendor prior to downloading the app.  Some questions to ask are (a) does this vendor have other successful apps that you are familiar with? (b) does the vendor have a reputable website? (c) do they have a legitimate privacy policy?  (d) did the vendor pop up out of nowhere?  (e) does the vendor have any reviews on other websites?  and (e) what do other people say about the app/vendor?  Safe app developers usually have a good track record.
  2. Do not rush through or skim over the permissions section.  Otherwise, you may just check off all the boxes, allowing permission to use contacts, read or even modify them.
  3. Numbers really matter.  Generally, a malware free app is one with a combined high rating and millions of  downloads over a sustained period of time.
  4. Keeping children safe boils down to monitoring their phone activity with vigilance.  Ways to safeguard your child’s mobile security is to install an activity monitoring app; approve each app and explain why an app is safe or not; and set the child’s phone to automatically reject certain permissions.