You must have come across invisible cell phone spy software that claims to monitor any person’s cell phone in several secret ways. But the app world has become vast and many apps developed now in the name of entertainment or any other utility steal our information without our knowledge. These apps use our microphone to access information about what shows do we watch, which as we see, and even our choice of movies.
A recent report in the New York Times revealed that the issue is deeper than that. According to this report, the newspaper says that many games in the Google Play Store contained a software for monitoring users’ TV behaviors. The Times said that more than 250 of such games were identified on the Google Play Store. That software is developed by a company named Alphonso. And most of the games that included this software to collect user data did not disclose it in their description. In fact, it was smartly hidden beneath ‘read more’ button. The report even went on to say that some of these apps keep monitoring the phone’s microphone even after they are closed. Most of these apps were reported to be on Android while some were on App Store as well.
It’s not just the invisible cell phone spy software that monitors your activity; there has been news in the past that major apps like Facebook tap their user’s smartphone mics to pitch them ads based on their conversations. But still, these apps do not use the data for creepy purposes. They use most of this to predict our buying behaviors and for their commercial growth.
However, there is another category of apps that can be more dangerous than the ones discussed above. This type of apps can steal personal and financial information, take over the smartphone and even disrupt personal networks. These phony apps are sent through marketing emails or you would often see them promoted on the websites. They often look like legitimate offers from famous companies. However, they are actually designed to trick the users into sharing their credit card, financial, or other personal information. Some of these apps have viruses, malware, or ransomware designed into them. They can even spoof the information stored in email address books and contact lists.
Unlike the invisible cell phone spy software, these apps fool the victims by pretending as leading brands in e-commerce. There are thousands of such apps that imitate branded terms in their title or description. But you would be wondering why would these phony apps use the name of e-commerce brands? That’s because of the perceived economic and commercial benefits of using e-commerce platforms to buy and sell smartphones and computers. However, it is pertinent in this era of rapidly changing technology that consumers must take the time to investigate the apps they use. They must control and make sure before downloading an app to their smartphone, sharing credit card information, and personal details online.
There are some strategies that can be followed to block the drain of information to any of the phony apps out there. Following are these strategies:
Download from official app stores: Almost all of the invisible cell phone spy software is not available in the official apps stores of Google or Android. The app stores usually have strict guidelines for the apps. So you must download the apps from official app stores only. Though some of the apps may still be able to deceive the screening process of the apps stores, you must still investigate and read its instructions proceeding with the download.
Update regularly: Updates are released by the operating system to curb the prevalence of such apps. Always keep your operating system updated. You would often see some updates with system patches titled as “Critical Security Update”. These type of updates must be applied as early as possible.
Secure Personal Information: There are apps that would ask you to give access to your personal information. Even if it is just a game. Be careful about sharing your personal information. There are many aspects that are unrelated to the performance of apps like access to contacts, administrative features, stored passwords, and credit card information.
Do not blindly follow the review: Excellent interviews are often deceiving. They are forged to trick you into buying the product. Such products’ number of downloads may also indicate that it has been successful in fooling the victims. You must make sure that the app you are downloading is a renowned developer. If the name is not recognized or it has strange spellings then avoid downloading this app.
Do your research: Poor grammar and spelling mistakes are signs of malware campaigns. If a product’s name or description is faulty, it is an evidence of careless development and a lack of marketing expertise. So it is always better to do some research on Google about the developer and its reputation.
Use Parental Controls: Parental control apps allow the parents to view the apps on their child’s phone. They can also delete the app if they find it harmful. So it is always better to use a parental control app to keep a check on your child’s phone activity.
Some phony apps will appear like invisible cell phone spy software or they are not easily detectable. If you are not sure about any such app, then do a factory reset of your phone and update all your passwords.