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Your privacy and mobile apps

May 2014

Infographic Privacy and Mobile Apps screenshot. Description and html version follows.

Privacy and Mobile Apps

Tips for protecting your personal information when downloading and using mobile apps

Mobile apps can be incredibly useful and can turn your smartphone or tablet into a social hub, e-book reader or gaming device at the swipe of a finger. However, it's important to protect your personal information when downloading and using apps.

Here are some tips:

Only download apps from official and trusted app stores.

Be careful when using other app sources. Verifying trusted sources provides a level of assurance that you will not receive spam messages or have personal information such as your phone number or email exposed.

Read the privacy policy for an app before you download it.

Apps may want access to information such as your phone and email contacts, call logs, calendar information, location data, and the unique identification number of your device.

Check the developer’s privacy policy to see whether it tells you what personal information the app will be accessing and how it may be used or disclosed.  If you can’t locate the privacy policy, or any privacy information for that matter, consider whether it‘s worth taking the risk of downloading the app.

Check permissions during installation and, if possible, during the life of the app.

During installation, verify that the permissions being sought by the app match not only what the privacy policy says but also what you would expect the app to require. (Permissions within mobile apps allow the app access to your device’s data and capabilities in order to run. These permissions could include location, identity, email and contacts.)   Also pay attention to the app description in the app store as well as any “in-app” notices which may explain the app’s collection and use of personal information.

Turn on the automatic lock and password protect features on your mobile device.

Locking your device will ensure that a password is required to gain access to personal information on your device – including information that your apps have collected.

Keep your apps up to date and regularly clear out apps you no longer want or use.   

An out of date app which hasn’t been patched can be dangerous.  It can allow for hackers to exploit a security vulnerability and compromise personal data on your mobile device.

Many of us have downloaded an app and only used it once.  If you no longer use an app, uninstall it.

Make sure you erase any apps (and all other personal information) from your device before you donate, resell or recycle it.

You should be able to erase information stored on your device by using a ‘factory reset’ option in the device settings.

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