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Smartphone applications are not yet a huge threat as long as you take a few security precautions.

As a new owner of a tablet device, one of the many questions that have arisen in my mind is the installation of apps. We all install free apps every day that do really neat, cool, and fun things. But I very seldom take the time to actually read the very fine print accompanying the installation. I guess the primary question is: are the installation of apps becoming more and more dangerous?And what, if anything, can we do about it?

In this excerpt from Answercast #47, I look at the safety of smartphone applications.

Are apps more dangerous?

Unfortunately, the short answer to the "Is it becoming more dangerous?" question is of course yes.

Fortunately, it's not a huge threat right now. But in my opinion, it's only going to get worse over time. So, right now, today, the only thing that I honestly suggest people do is second-guess whether you really need to be installing all of those apps on your devices.

For both security reasons and overall performance reasons, my own experience is that:

  • Sometimes, the number of apps you have installed on a device can adversely affect its performance,

  • And your ability to install additional apps.

Watch your sources

That being said then, the other thing is to make sure you're only getting apps from the proper and accredited sources. What that means is:

  • You're only getting them from Apple or through the Apple Apps store (if you've got an "i" device);

  • And only through the Google Play store (if you've got an Android device);

  • Or only from the Kindle, the Amazon app store (if you have a Kindle or other device that you're using the Amazon store on.)

Side loading apps

I realize that there are other ways to get applications on the devices. It's typically referred to as "side loading" and in some cases, it might even be required for specific apps. I know that I initially had to install Dropbox on my Kindle using that side loading technique.

But if you're worried about security; if you're worried about safety, I would absolutely suggest that you:

  • Not install every app that comes along;

  • And for those that you do install, make sure that you're getting them from the official channels.

Article C5735 - August 25, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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