HOW MUSLIMS CAN STAY SAFE WHEN USING MOBILE APPS
Shockingly three-quarters of all smartphone apps would fail a basic security check. How do you know the apps on your phone are secure?
In this digital era, most of us own smartphones, and we each have countless apps stored on them. Now, which application do you most frequently access when you are using your phone? For me, I always have a standard set of apps that I ritually open at the start of each day: Instagram, Whatsapp, and of course, Gmail!
Also, along with nearly all Muslims, I would use an app to check prayer times, read the Quran and check the Qibla direction whenever I am in an unfamiliar place. This is the golden trio that helps me keep my obligations as a Muslim in check, no matter where I go.
However, after a recent scare where a popular Muslim prayer app was found to be sharing our personal, private data with third-party companies, I started becoming increasingly cautious of the apps I store on my phone.
Research shows that 75% of apps would not pass a basic security test, and 83% of apps have at least one security flaw. Additionally, mobile security vulnerabilities are found in 91% – 95% of iOS and Android apps. Scary!
With so many apps at risk of a security breach, is it even possible for the apps we download to be safe to use? Can I even have control over what I share with the app? How can I maintain my privacy whilst using the apps?
As I do not want to compromise my privacy and want to protect my data online, I found a few quick and easy techniques to remain stay whilst on these apps. Even if I may not be able to eliminate all the risks, these methods certainly help me control the personal information that I share online:
Create a Strong Password
If an app asks me to create a profile with a password, I would set a very strong password which consists of a mixture of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols. Yes, yes, I know. It’s very difficult to memorize passwords, even more so strong ones! So, sometimes I store them elsewhere (either in a password app or on a piece of paper in a locked drawer).
Additionally, I frequently change my passwords for my most-used applications to further reduce security risks.
Limit GPS tracking
I don’t see the use of having the GPS function open all the time, other than while using Google Maps or my prayer app. So, I keep my GPS turned off most of the time. This definitely eliminates the chances of having unknown parties accessing my location.
Delete Unused Apps and Update the Rest
Research shows that almost half of apps downloaded are not used regularly. So after I heard about the security breach incident, I decided to delete applications that I do not use and keep my regularly used apps up to date as it improves the performance and ensures better security online.
Be Aware of Permissions
On some occasions, the mobile apps that I downloaded have requested permission to access data on my phone that was not even related to the function of the app. Some requested unnecessary access to my pictures and contacts.
Since I realised all apps could not be trusted, I ensure that I understand the permission request fully and carefully to eliminate any risk of breach.
These techniques have significantly reduced the risk of losing control over my personal private data. But one question still remains – how can I choose apps that are secure?