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Coronavirus: app hacks questions

During the extraordinary times of the virus-lockdown, some people are turning apps and games on their phones to pass the time they are self-isolating. Apps like Houseparty and Zoom have been popular, as they allow people to interact and play games with friends or families at home. Apps on your smartphones can be fun and engaging; yet, people must make informed decisions about how much they’re willing to share online, says David Emm, principal security researcher at the cyber security product company Kaspersky.

He says: “We entrust so much valuable personal data to social media platforms, such as addresses, payments information and photos, that it is imperative that people take their online privacy seriously. Our advice for people using apps like Houseparty and Zoom is to make sure that you don’t over-share personal information, even with family and friends.

By asking a few key questions and remembering these top tips in mind, consumers can continue to connect securely, and stay in touch, he says.

Questions to ask before downloading any app are, David, pictured, says:

– How does the app make money? If it’s free, your information is probably the price – so have a look at the permissions to see what data they harvest, store and reuse.

– Is data transmitted by the app encrypted?

– Be aware of social engineering tactics. How do you know people in the app you connect with are who they say they are? And how do you verify information or links they send you?

He advises that you disable features unless you’re using them, or need to enable access, such as a microphone, or video camera. If it’s work-related, stick to using the app recommended or provided by your company, rather than your favourite group meeting app. And as in life generally, don’t over-share – don’t post it if you don’t want everyone to see it. As for passwords, use unique, complex passwords for all your online accounts, he says.

Finally, nothing is 100 per cent secure. David adds that you might not be as interesting to an attacker as Amazon owner Jeff Bezos as a hacking target, we can all fall foul of app hacks.


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