Our desktops, phones, and all the other devices we’re using are constantly asking for one thing we take for granted – permissions. In order to use the app, a user must give the app all the necessary approvals and allow it to access the essential parts of the device so that they can fully enjoy its features.
But did you ever wonder what happens when you give an app permission to access your camera, contacts, or photos?
Of course, most of the apps we use every day are safe, meaning that they won’t affect our privacy, but we all must be cautious when giving permission to programs that do not seem trustworthy.
In this article, we’ll dive into the importance of choosing the apps wisely and explain how to recognize apps that should not have access to your sensitive information.
Why Do Apps Ask for Permission?
When granting permission to a newly installed app, you are letting it have control over your device and access its parts, including the camera, microphone, photos, contacts, or even messages.
Essentially, the apps need permission in order to function correctly on your device and provide an optimal user experience. In most cases, the apps won’t work if you deny their request to access the parts they need, meaning that you don’t really have a choice.
However, some permissions should never be accepted by the user.
Which Permissions Should the User Avoid?
Essentially, the user should avoid any permission that does not affect the way the app is functioning.
For example, if the program requires access to your location or camera – and it does not really need it – it is highly recommended not to allow it. That said, this is where your privacy becomes affected.
Most operating systems, mainly Android, divide permissions between “normal” and “dangerous.” As you might assume, any app that requires access to your phone’s history, calls, private conversations, or microphone is potentially a malicious one.
While some apps, like Messenger or WhatsApp, need permission for a camera and microphone to allow the users to perform video calls, single-player games or photo editing apps do not necessarily need those permissions.
So, the next time you’re asked to accept the game app’s request for location or microphone, think twice before you say “yes.”
How to Recognize Dangerous Permissions and Protect Ourselves?
Dangerous permissions can be easily spotted as they try to access some of the most sensitive parts of the user’s device. Essentially, any consent that could affect someone’s privacy is considered dangerous, especially if it involves some of the following categories:
- Call and chat history
The best way to protect your privacy against malicious activities deployed through dangerous permissions is through prevention and awareness. Besides implementing some of the best antivirus programs and avoiding sketchy apps from the online store, it is recommended to update your passwords regularly.
Even in the modern era, passwords remain one of the most vulnerable aspects of users’ security. While some users create weak passwords due to their laziness, others don’t want to bother with remembering randomly generated series of numbers, letters, and special characters.
However, a password manager is a safe solution for avoiding all the fuss regarding secure password creation and sharing. Password managers allow you to generate impossible-to-break codes for securing your sensitive accounts and share them with others without risks.
Besides, such tools come with features like autocomplete, meaning you don’t have to memorize your passcodes. Depending on your needs and budget, you can choose between a broad range of options that meet your needs and enjoy next-level security.
How to Check If You Have Allowed Dangerous Permissions?
The users do not always know which permissions they granted and whether those are safe or not. Luckily, this can be quickly checked.
Both Android and iOS users can verify whether their device is endangered due to unnecessary permissions by going to Google Play/App Store, choosing the app whose safety they’d like to check, and following the next steps:
- Go to About this app.
- Click App permissions.
- Take a look at all the permissions the app is requesting from you.
Once you know which permissions you give to app developers, you can choose whether you want to keep it that way or remove those that could affect your privacy and online reputation.
Since almost all the apps we are using require some sort of permissions, the wisest thing to choose would be to keep only the apps with appropriate requests.
Which Apps Carry the Most Dangerous Permissions?
Some apps come with more dangerous requests than others, and they often fall into the following categories:
- Navigation and maps
If you take a closer look at the permissions requested by the apps within the above-mentioned categories, you will notice that most of them seek access to your contacts, call history, and exact location. While those apps are not dangerous at the moment, it is believed that most of them can pose significant risks in the future.
Phone cameras have also become a vulnerability as most apps require access to it. In most cases, attackers take advantage of camera access to track the user’s activity through malicious applications the user has installed. Besides, a camera can allow hackers to track your location and know where you are at any moment.
So, if apps like games, wallpapers, fonts, or similar ask for permission to access your camera, double-check whether you really need them.
Although no app is 100% secure, we cannot imagine our everyday lives without them. So, in order to ensure our data and privacy are not affected by dangerous permissions, it’s quintessential to install the programs asking for necessary permissions and avoid those that look sketchy.
Although most users, by default, allow all the requests by the newly installed apps, it’s not recommended to do that if you care about your sensitive information. Instead, make sure to accept only those permissions needed for the app to function properly and stay away from others – that way, you can stay safe in the uncertain digital era.