Mobile App Security Advice

By Eric Andring, Information Security Officer, Bell State Bank & Trust

If you have a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device, you probably use apps. There are thousands of mobile apps available for download. Some of the ways in which mobile apps can be used are for productivity tools; game playing; access to books, weather, music or videos; business location services and driving directions. Apps are easy to download and are often free.

When you’re considering downloading a mobile app, you should consider the following information before allowing the app install to occur:

Purchasing

It is a good practice to use the approved “App Store” for your device. Apple, Android, and Microsoft are some examples of companies that offer app stores. App stores offer operating system-specific downloads, so make sure you get the app that will work with your operating system. Some apps may require account setup at the app store where your credit card information is kept for easy app purchases, while other apps are free. Free apps normally contain advertising or have limited functionality, with full functionality available after you purchase the full version.

Permission to Access Your Mobile Device Data

When installing an app, you may be asked for permission to allow the new app to access information stored on your mobile device. Make sure you take time to read what information will be shared with the app. Some apps only access the data that is needed to function, while others look at your phone and email contacts, online information, device location and information about how and when you use the app. The apps that collect more information than is required for the app to function usually collect the information to share with advertisers or with the application developers.

GPS Location Data

If you have a smartphone and have downloaded an app that has permission to access your location data, it can do so until you change the settings on your smartphone. If you don’t want to share your location with advertising networks, you can turn off location services in your smartphone’s settings. If you decide to turn off location services, the app won’t be able to give you information based on your location unless you type it in yourself.

Update Your App

After you have downloaded your app, your device may notify you periodically that there are updates available for your app. Don’t forget to install these app updates, as they often contain security patches that protect the app and your device.

Don’t Tamper With Your Mobile Device Security or You May Be Sorry

Jailbreaking or rooting a mobile device is often done to turn on additional features, download apps not normally available and to customize how the device functions.  Doing it normally voids any support coverage and leaves the device much more susceptible to malware which can affect the security and integrity of other apps on the device which could lead to fraudulent activity.

Quick Tips

Before downloading an app, you may want to ask yourself a few quick questions:

  • Is the app creator credible?
  • What does the app do and what information does it collect and have access to?
  • Does it make sense for the app to collect the information?
  • Is there contact information such as an email address or website? If not, the app may not be as credible as others.
  • It’s great to enjoy apps on your mobile device – but as always, it pays to be smart about the security aspects.

Read these articles for more ways to protect your mobile devices:

5 Essential Mobile Security Tips

Understanding Mobile Apps

Disposing of Your Mobile Device

Bell State Bank & Trust’s App

Bell State Bank & Trust is excited to announce it has launched mobile applications for iPhone® and Android™ users. With our free, new Bell Bank app, you can take your bank wherever you are. Plus, it’s free, secure and easy-to-use.

 

2 Responses to this post...

  • Char Goodyear on Mar 26, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Will you be offering an ap for windows phones?

  • Bell State Bank & Trust on Mar 27, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    Char, while we do not yet have an app for Windows Phone 8, we now have Mobile Browser Banking that is customized for phones like yours. It offers many of the same features as our apps, like checking balances, viewing transactions, making transfers, and paying bills. Simply go to mb.bellbanks.com on your phone. You can use the same username and password that you use today for Personal Online Banking to sign on.

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