The monitoring capabilities of mobile apps are becoming a concern for South African users, many of whom are worried that the apps on their connected devices might be able to track them down, watch what they’re doing, or share their data.
But these dangers could be easily averted by putting some simple security measures in place, warns cybersecurity experts from Kaspersky Lab.
There are rising concerns among consumers about just how much of their Internet activity is being watched, or whether they are traceable through their online footprint. Kaspersky Lab has found, for example, that 71% of South Africans are uncomfortable with sharing their location information with websites and applications – a figure that has risen significantly from 53% in 2016.
Furthermore, 65% are very concerned that someone can see everything they do or watch them on their device where 59% fear that someone could track them down using geolocation information from their device.
These concerns are well-founded. Kaspersky Lab experts have found that apps can not only access a huge amount of data (such as crucial details about where users are, information about their contacts, activities and so on), but they also often work in the background without users knowing.
According to the research, globally 83% of Android apps have access to their owners’ sensitive data, and 96% of Android apps can launch without consent. Nevertheless, worries about this access can be averted with some simple security measures.
But people are avoiding the data safety or privacy measures that could help put their minds at ease – for example, 40% of South Africans admit that they don’t check the permissions of their preinstalled mobile apps on their Android and iOS devices, and 12% don’t check permissions when downloading or installing new apps onto their mobile devices. Because of this, mobile users are increasingly concerned, but remain unprotected from potential data leakage.
Dmitry Aleshin, vice-president: product marketing at Kaspersky Lab, says: “Apps have become an important part of our day-to-day lives. We use them for everything – from editing photos to updating our social media accounts, or from playing games to booking a table at a restaurant. But this research shows that despite our love for apps, we don’t necessarily trust them. While people are certainly becoming more switched on about their apps tracking their online activity, they aren’t necessarily putting measures in place to protect themselves from any potential problems. That’s where we can help give users peace of mind. Our products are designed specifically to help people get on with their digital lives – and enjoy all the Internet has to offer without having to worry.”