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by admin last modified Mar 19, 2017 10:03 PM
SANS OUCH! for March: Securely Using Mobile Apps

Overview
Mobile devices, such as tablets, smartphones, and watches, have become one of the primary technologies we use in both our personal and professional lives. What makes mobile devices so versatile are the millions of apps we can choose from. These apps enable us to be more productive, instantly communicate and share with others, train and educate, or just have more fun. However, with the power of all these mobile apps comes risks. Here are some steps you can take to securely use and make the most of your mobile apps.

Obtaining Mobile Apps
The first step is making sure you always download mobile apps from a safe, trusted source. Cyber criminals have mastered their skills at creating and distributing infected mobile apps that appear to be legitimate. If you install one of these infected apps, criminals can take complete control of your mobile device. By downloading apps from only well-known, trusted sources, you reduce the chance of installing an infected app. What you may not realize is the brand of mobile device you use determines your options for downloading apps.

For Apple devices, such as an iPad or iPhone, only download mobile apps from the Apple App Store. The advantage to this is Apple does a security check of all mobile apps before they are made available. While Apple cannot catch all the infected mobile apps, this managed environment helps to dramatically reduce the risk of installing an infected app. In addition, if Apple does find an app in its store that it believes is infected, it will quickly remove the mobile app. Windows Phone uses a similar approach to managing applications.

Android mobile devices are different. Android gives you more flexibility by being able to download a mobile app from anywhere on the internet. However, with this flexibility comes more responsibility. You have to be more careful about which mobile apps you download and install, as not all of them are reviewed. Google does maintain a managed mobile app store similar to Apple’s, called Google Play. The mobile apps you download from Google Play have passed some basic security checks. As such, we recommend you download your mobile apps for Android devices only from Google Play. Avoid downloading Android mobile apps from other websites, as anyone--including cyber criminals --can easily create and distribute malicious mobile apps and trick you into infecting your mobile device. As an additional protection, install anti- virus on your mobile device when possible.

 

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