App Dangers


Story Details

We live in a world that's run on smart phones with free apps that give us the ability to do almost anything, anywhere.

We blissfully snap away on Instagram, make free calls overseas via viber, check the latest weather, house prices, map our way, play games and check the stock market but what many people don't realise is we are actually paying for them.

"Nobody ever reads the terms and conditions when they should be reading the terms and conditions because they would think twice about installing these apps".

While we may not be paying money according to Adelaide's tech expert Richard Pascoe, we are trading something even more valuable.

"It can look at your phone records, it can look at your sms details and can look at your contacts as well and can alter anything on your usb device," says Richard.

Willem Herbst had a number of free apps on his android. It was only when he started receiving update reminders that he discovered what he had agreed to when he installed these apps.

"It started off with Viber basically wanting to use your camera to record without your permission, record audio without your permission, to make phone calls without your knowledge. As I started reading through all the other apps I noticed they were all doing it, all adding, recording audio and video without your knowledge, reading through your contacts making new accounts, deleting accounts, making new passwords," says Willem.

Feeling his privacy had been compromised... Willem stopped installing apps altogether.

"The scary part is you are holding a phone and anybody can look at what you’re doing read what you’re doing listen to what you’re doing record it all and do whatever they like with it. Is the world heading in a way where we have no privacy at all?" asks Willem.

According to tech expert Richard, it is.

"Your private information is no longer private".

Every time we install a free app we are giving the app maker approval to use our information anyway they like, usually for advertising purposes.

"App makers will use the information that you give them that they can access off your device to share with like-minded companies that they are in bed with," says Richard.

The popular Facebook app can modify contacts, add or remove accounts, change passwords, modify or delete the contents of your sd card and more worryingly...

"The Facebook app when you install, that can actually record audio and video without your knowledge," says Richard.

When you sign up to Viber you are agreeing to allow the app to share your data without your knowledge, read your contact card and send your profile information to others.

As well as...
“Make phone calls on your behalf send text messages on your behalf," says Richard.

As for Instagram, it can use your phone's camera at any time without your authority and it's all clearly documented in the app permissions section.

How do we know what sort of personal information these aps are able to access?

"We find the app we want to install so for example angry birds, we click on the install buttons then the app permissions comes up in the idle of the screen and we click on see all, and then we can see that angry birds can modify or delete our storage, it knows our location and it can read phone status and identity," explains Richard.

The trouble is how many of us actually read these vital clauses?

"People should be aware that apps are all about accessing information on our phones and tablets,” says Richard.

Richards’ advice... Before you install an app, read what you're agreeing to and if you don't like it, don't install it.

"I would be quite happy to live without my smart phone and just go back to Nokia with no apps," says Willem.