Tips and tricks
    07 January 2019

    Megan Ellis

    Warning signs: How to tell whether an app is dodgy

    There are plenty of signs that give away fake apps. To you can avoid wasting your time and possibly money, here are a few things to look out for.

    There are literally millions of apps on the Google Play Store. But not all of these apps are useful or provide any value. In fact, some of these apps are actually a threat to your phone’s privacy and security.

    While Google has its own security filters for its app store, there are many cases of dodgy apps making it onto the storefront and being downloaded by users.

    So what are some of the warning signs that an app might not be what it says it is? Here are a few things to look out for…

    Bad user reviews

    Overwhelmingly bad reviews and ratings are always a reason to stay away from an app in terms of quality. But they can also be a sign that an app doesn’t do what it claims to do.

    When downloading an app, look at its user reviews for any red flags. If users claim the app causes their phones to malfunction or loads malware onto their device, it’s better to stay away from it.

    Too many requested permissions

    The permissions an app asks for can also be a sign of whether it is trustworthy or not. Always take a look at what permissions the app wants versus the app’s features.

    For example, a flashlight app shouldn’t request access to your call logs, your microphone or any sensitive data. In the past, flashlight apps that actually carried malware and spyware requested these types of permissions to record user activity.

    In reality, flashlight apps require very few permissions, which mostly have to do with being able to control your phone’s camera (to use your camera’s LED flash for light).

    More complex apps do require more permissions. But if there’s a simple app that requires a high number of permissions, rather avoid it than risk it invading your privacy and accessing sensitive data.

    Check out the maker of the app

    It’s not uncommon for major apps to be cloned and uploaded by different, unauthorised developers on the Play Store. In fact, many apps share similar or sometimes identical names.

    If you are looking for a specific app and aren’t sure which is the real one, check the developers who made it.

    Major developers such as Google, Microsoft and Adobe generally have trustworthy apps. You should look out for developers who have only a few unknown apps with bad reviews. And if you know the app you’re looking for is made by a certain company, make sure the developer name matches.

    Apps that claim to do the impossible

    Another sign of a dodgy app is one that claims to do the impossible. For example, there are apps that claim to tell you how many people viewed your Facebook profile. This is despite the fact there is no way to tell who has viewed your profile, so any app claiming to do so is hiding its true intention.

    Watch out for apps that claim to have these secret features. 

    Check out our useful articles that will help you make the most of your phone, plus a series of articles to help you with everyday Vodacom tasks, like finding your PUK. 

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    Megan Ellis