Applications are very important these days; they help us go through our days with more ease and can provide some fun along the way. There are many to pick from; all you need to do is go to your phone’s app store and get any you need. They are also very useful when it comes to facilitating financial transactions and payments, especially when shopping.
However, there have been suspicions about if user data is secretly extracted from our mobile devices through some apps. These suspicions have now been confirmed, as two shopping apps have recently been found guilty of extracting customer information while customers were shopping. That could affect many people across the United States.
According to a 2021 Statista survey, 95% of Macy’s app users affirmed that they planned to use the app to shop. Amazon’s app usage for shopping hit 8o%. This means that if any shopping app is actually stealing data (which has now been confirmed), then more than a third of United States citizens could be affected.
A wake-up call recently is the report that the Shein shopping app, which has attracted over 100 million downloads, has been accessing users’ clipboard activities.
This article will talk about how many shopping apps are stealing your data, mention some of these apps, and highlights some ways you can stop these apps from stealing your data.
What’s in Your Mobile Device that Shopping Apps are after?
If you’re wondering why phones are being targeted in the first place, it is because they hold almost everything about us. From photos to passwords and login details to private and public messages, and even our schedules, there is just so much we store on our mobile devices. Many people say that our mobile phones might know more about us than we know about ourselves.
The advent or introduction of new features such as HD cameras, fingerprint scanners, location systems, and facial recognition software seems like a boon, but security-wise, it is not. These features allow for more of our information to be accessible from our phones and be used to access shopping app accounts, most of which can be used to steal financial information and wreak havoc.
Examples of shopping apps that have been recently discovered to gain access to private information via the app are Shein as mentioned above and Pinduoduo.
Hence, it is important that we control who gets to gain access to our data, or else phone users might suffer a lot of loss financially. While we need to input our data into many apps during our daily activities, we need to ensure that these apps do not extract this information and use it for nefarious purposes, or pass it along to people that can cause a lot of harm.
The next section talks about ways by which we can ensure that these shopping apps (and other apps) cannot steal our data.
How to Prevent Your Shopping App from Stealing Your Data
Now that you know that shopping apps can steal your data and sell it for a good profit, which could cause you to lose money, here are some things IT professionals recommend to prevent these apps from taking advantage of you:
Wait before installing a new app
While you get bragging rights on if you get to be part of the first users of a new app, you could also be the first of many people to get swindled of your data by a new app. There is a popular software installation rule that goes, “Never install software that does not have a defined developer company name until they upload their third update.” There is a reason for that, and here is why.
Most new apps usually come with several vulnerabilities. It is after many users have interacted with the app and dropped their reviews that the developers can go back to the drawing board and fix these bugs and other common issues. If the vulnerability causes you to lose a lot, then it would have been better off for you to have waited for some weeks before installing the app.
Wait for some weeks, let the developers discover their errors, and jump on the bandwagon.
Check app reviews before installation
Before installing any shopping app, you should check its reviews. Of course, there might be some “too good” and “too bad” reviews, but every rumor has a truth in it. Most bad reviews might not be completely right, but they are pointing to something you should take note of, which should help you decide whether you should get the app or not.
Also, wait a few weeks (again) before reading any reviews. That way, you can be sure most people who post reviews have used the app for a week or longer.
Research on the app publisher
Apart from reading reviews, you can also check online for news about the developer or publisher. If you see slight news pointing to anomalies and rumors that the publisher is not what they seem, then you should be warned.
Read the fine print
Most shopping apps and apps in general come with their terms and conditions. This fine print tells you everything you should know about the app and how they plan to use the data they might have access to while you use them. While most people complain about the terms and conditions being too bulky for them to read, they forget that skimming through (or taking time to read the fine print properly) could save you a lot of time and money.
For example, there is no need for a shopping app to ask for access to your contact list. If any shopping app asks you for things that do not relate to their services, then you need to take immediate action. Immediate action means rereading the fine print to know if there is a concrete reason for requesting access to your contacts. If there is no concrete reason, you might need to find an alternative.
Deny the shopping app’s access to your location settings
Many shopping apps usually ask for access to your location settings in a bid to give you suggestions on content based on your location. While this is a good idea, it can be used to attack you. If any hacker gets access to your location data, they can use it to monitor your movements and draft plans on how to take advantage of your absence at home, for instance. Put off your location settings for every shopping app today. After all, you already know where the store is.
Let Connect2Geek Help You Protect Your Data From Hackers!
Businesses need to protect their customers’ data from malicious actors who are always on the lookout to use client information for malicious purposes. If your business is in this group, Connect2Geek is here to help. Contact us to schedule a chat.