You and your smartphone spend a lot of time together, and it's gotten to know you pretty well.
Think about it: Your phone is probably the last thing you touch before your pillow when you go to sleep at night and the first thing you reach for when you wake up (your significant other made sure of that). Your phone is with you at work, when you eat, when you're out, when you're watching television, even when you're on the toilet.
Many smartphone apps require access to your phone's camera and/or microphone, your photos, your social media pages, your GPS and more. Some don't require such access but use it anyway.
Most of the time, apps ask permission for those privileges. Many users would be surprised to know how that information is used, and none of them would be pleased. That's the lesson from a recent ABC 7 New York report.
"You'd be really surprised," cyber security expert Gary Miliefsky tells ABC 7. "Most of your apps are using everything to collect data on you."
The good news, Miliefsky says, is that you can delete apps that spy on you. He encourages smartphone users to regularly clean their phones and get rid of apps they don't use.
If you go into each of your apps, you can see what other functions on your device they are using i.e. the microphone.
Through settings, you can toggle the microphone or camera off for apps you don't need for voice commands.
Then there's the issue of Malware that secretly records your information. Miliefsky says avoid Malware by not clicking on unknown links on websites or in emails and texts.
Make sure you know what apps your kids are downloading, too!
To determine if your device is infected, there are a few signs you can look for, according to a USA Today report on the subject:
- Data usage - If you're burning through data for no obvious reason, there's a good change your device has a virus.
- Crashing apps - Viruses tamper with a device's operations, regular updates help prevent this interference.
- Unexplained charges - This is a huge and obvious red flag.
- Unwanted apps - Lots of "Trojan apps" are made to look like real ones. Double-check the apps on your phone to make sure you know what they are.
- Battery drain - While decreased battery capacity is a common symptom of an aging device, malware uses your phone's power for its mischief.
Symptoms for viruses are similar on both Apple and Android devices, but the fixes are different. If you think you're infected, search for a fix based on your specific device and operating system.