Hack warning: Four red flags to look out for when downloading apps





THERE are millions of apps to choose from but how do you tell if they’re safe?

We’re hearing about an increasing number of apps filled with viruses and malware, used by hackers for all sorts of nefarious activities.

Always be careful what you download

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Always be careful what you downloadCredit: Getty

Just this week, we reported on cyber crooks using a sneaky way to prevent millions of victims on Android from removing their virus-filled apps.

They were all on the Google Play Store until experts exposed them.

So what should you look out for when downloading an app?

Adrianus Warmenhoven, a cybersecurity expert at NordVPN, shares some useful tips.

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Check reviews

You’ll see feedback about apps further down the page which can be very useful.

“It sounds obvious but users police the apps they use all the time and aren’t shy about warning others when they find problems,” Warmenhoven explains.

How many downloads has it had?

Claims of huge numbers when the app is brand new can be a bit of a red flag too.

“There have been cases where the download figures have been manipulated by fraudsters so you should definitely smell a rat if an app is claiming millions of downloads yet has only been released for a few days,” the expert reveals.

See the permissions

Developers have to detail in the Google Play Store description what sort of things it needs access to on your phone to work.

If there are any odd permissions it needs, that could be a bad sign.

“Be wary if an app asks for permissions it doesn’t need,” Warmenhoven warns.

“No flashlight app needs to know your location.”

He adds: “For extra protection use a virtual private network so all of your phone and computer’s internet traffic is encrypted and secure.”

Do your research

The Google Play Store app description will also say who has made the app.

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Is it a name you know and trust?

You can click the name and it’ll show you any other apps they’ve made – have a look at those and see if there have been any complaints in the reviews on them.

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