When Apps Attack: Precious Data Found To Be At Risk From Poor App And Device Care, Kaspersky Lab Study Reveals

Our increasing appetite and demand for applications is leading to users’ precious data becoming ever more vulnerable. In fact, we often make online choices that seem worth the risk, yet we aren’t recognising that those choices put us in danger. For example, the lack of awareness around the risks of app usage, poor maintenance of these apps and low understanding of cyber-attacks, is leaving users’ devices open to digital clutter and their precious data vulnerable to security threats.

Apps offer consumers entertainment, communication and convenience however they are also putting user data and devices at risk due to their everyday functionality. Technical findings and analysis from the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) and an experiment into app performance by Kaspersky Lab found that of 100 Android apps users can manage (i.e. install and delete), 83 have access to sensitive user data, such as contacts, messages and data, and can even make calls and send SMSs. This is worrying when we consider that 96 in 100 Android apps start working without users launching them.

A UK survey commissioned by Kaspersky Lab found that 79 per cent of people connect their smartphone to the Internet and store vast amounts of personal data on the devices. Consumers are concerned by who has access to their data, with 40 per cent saying they’d be more worried about other people having their personal data than about getting it back.

In fact, almost half of those surveyed said they would feel violated if their personal data was stolen, yet 71 per cent don’t have their data backed-up.

The build-up of digital clutter means that app cleansing and updating are now more important than ever to combat malware that uses apps’ vulnerabilities to penetrate devices.

David Mole, Head of Retail Sales, Kaspersky Lab, UK and Ireland said: “Users are exposing devices and personal data to security threats by failing to undertake simple but essential care for their device. This can lead to a wide range of problems such as device glitches, battery life issues or malware infection. Apps have access to some of the most sensitive and personal data we have on our devices and users are often unaware this information is being shared, increasing vulnerability to attacks.

Ransomware, for example, in its simplest form is the theft of confidential data, with a cost – ransom – to regain access to the stolen files. This could be priceless items, such as baby photos, or financial details, such as banking documents all often stored on mobile devices and accessed through apps.”

Mole continues, “although we would usually expect younger rather than older generations to be more technology savvy, the research found that 70 per cent of 18-24 year olds do not know what ransomware is, compared to 59 per cent of those over 55. This indicates a lack of knowledge amongst those most likely to be using devices connected to the internet.”

There are a few simple steps to de-clutter this Spring and protect data:

  • Back-up Data:Making a regular backup of your data is a must both on an external hard drive and or a cloud service
  • Have Active and Up-To-Date Software: Usea reliable Internet security solution and allow the automatic updates to run for all software and apps. These are in place to protect you from new security threats
  • ‘Spring clean’ your device: Spend some time to get your digital house in order by regularly clearing out data, uninstalling apps that are not needed and refreshing the information stored on your devices
  • Change app settings: These enable the user to manage how the app interacts with the device. For example, apps can get access to user sensitive information, track user locations and share user data with third party servers. Failure to manage these settings can result in unused apps gaining access to information on the device without the user being aware
  • Use dedicated software: For example, software cleaners such as the one integrated into Kaspersky Lab’s flagship security solutions, scan all applications installed on your device and mark those posing potential risk or are rarely used

new report by Kaspersky Lab reveals the scale of the threat to precious data as a result of digital clutter among Internet users worldwide.

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