How does App Permissions Impact Your Mobile Performance? & What Kind Of Permissions Are Safe To Allow

Aug 30, 2017

The invasion of the innocent

The global research firm Forrester predicts the global smart phone users to reach 3.8 billion by 2022 while achieving smart phone penetration of 50% in 2017 and 66 % by 2022, as reported in ETTelecom from The EconomicTimes on 18th July 2017.

The mobile and connectivity revolution is on! And your habitually downloaded mobile apps are part of it.

However, there is a need to take a breath. You and your mobile phone have become vulnerable and you are not even aware of it. The vulnerability subtly creeps in through of the back door of the app permission which you, as a user, grant as a matter of routine. You treat it like the click of “I agree “at the end of “Terms and conditions” at the time of signing up. And you just give in! You seem to be more bothered about the use of app than these asks. And who has time to think in this fast-paced world?

The impact of the above is that your mobile performance is compromised and your privacy is at stake. As reported by Intel last midyear, about 37 million devices were affected by malware whose origin was the mobile app store. And samples of mobile malware shot up by 24% in the final quarter of 2015 from a year earlier. This exposure of individual’s privacy through rampant app permissions is all pervasive now. The ease of app vis-à-vis the attack on mobile and user privacy/security is a matter of increasing and enlightened debate.

 

The performance of your mobile is affected by the permissions. The reasons are many. Few of those are:

When third party libraries and the permissions that they carry, are mixed, the user is vulnerable to dangerous malicious attacks. For the app developers, this is unavoidable to sustain the app development monetarily.

A poorly written code also aids the attack. The data leaving your mobile has to be encrypted (properly and indecipherably wrapped). If it’s not so, the attackers can ‘peep’ inside your mobile and gain access to your personal data. This mostly happens at public Wi-Fi spaces.

In app development, there are instances when the components are vulnerable to remote attacks. A couple of years back a select piece of code on Dropbox that other apps reuse was found vulnerable, which might have allowed theft of sensitive user data. However, this was fixed later.

Another impact is the data loss in your mobile due to advertising supported free app, which by itself is stand alone, but pushes the ads when on the internet

ETTelecom report states India to lead, as mobile penetration globally by 2022 is most likely to double the total number of users in 2008. It further says India has become top country in mobile data usage in the last few months. It is also evident that the ‘Digital India’ campaign in India is acting as a force multiplier.

But,
You, the user, seem to be in a glass house!
Unawares or innocently, you have given a host of permissions while downloading the app and have caused this watch.
Apps are asking you more than their due.

Your photo editing app asking gallery permission is fine as its functionality is to edit the photos but anything beyond that is questionable and suspicious. For example, a cab app can ask for location permission but why would it need contacts or media files. Similarly, why should an e-com app require device and app history or access to your camera? This is, without a doubt, an encroachment of your privacy.

And all the updates seem just to get your latest data.

The repercussions of misuse of permissions are many. For example, the contact info can lead to spoof email addresses, and the access to storage could enable Internet-based shady apps to upload your private pics to a website. If you give complete access to permissions it means you are exposing yourself to a credulous developer or unprincipled data miner.

Goodness, gracious!

The situation calls for wisdom and urgent action lest we lose our individual independence. 

Innocent to being smart

In the above scenario, how do you avoid giving more of you so that your privacy is not exposed and you are as secure as you should be?

It’s time to become a conscious user.

It’s time to manage the app permissions.

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You may give the permissions asked while downloading the app. But, soon go into the settings and remove the noncore permissions. That gives you some control.

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You need to handle sometimes the lumping together of many permissions such as GPS, contacts, Bluetooth, camera etc including FB and Twitter linkage under the category “privacy” permissions. Go to setting and examine the permissions. What you think are required you give. Rest you don’t.

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In some other cases, you can also conserve data by making the app use only the Wi-Fi scenario.

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You can also control the notifications via settings.

Tweaking of app permissions, time and again, would surely help. Thus it is better to configure the app permissions and feel safe.

However, is it the end of the story?

The evolving scenario

The permissions are being asked unabated. The gullible among you give them to enjoy the app functionality. Your data probably is being sold to the data aggregators. And you are being analyzed. The wise among you may manage permissions.

In a response to the above challenge, the latest versions of the Android and iOS allows permissions to be asked not in one go but as per the needs. You have more freedom and control now.

Deny, deny and deny! And the party will come to the table. Don’t use the apps that ask for unnecessary permissions. Use only those who ask only required permissions. That way, developers would be pushed to design apps that ask only relevant permissions. Already there is a positive movement. App makers are making it clear to users why they ask what they ask. And even if the user denies access to all permissions they are forced to give full service to the user.

The law is also catching up. The European Data Protection Regulation coming into effect next year, i.e. 2018, will strengthen the user as a decision maker of the use of his data.

Let’s wait and watch!

The game is on. Let’s be game for it.

Come! Let’s deal with app permissions
As Appcare, we are on a mission!

With AppCare – We care for your app!