Six ways to check if an Android app is safe to download


The Google Play Store is the safest place to download Android apps, but sometimes it can also host bad apps. See how you can check for yourself whether an application is secure or not.

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App stores, such as the Google Play Store, improve their security every year. However, malicious applications still find the window and hack into the Google Store and from there into users' phones. Not a few times from your iGuru we have announced to remove immediately some applications, which proved to be malicious afterwards.

But there are ways to make sure an app from the Google Play Store is secure. As long as you know what to look for and where to look for it. Here are six best ways to check if an app is secure before downloading it to your Android device.

1. Look for bad reviews

stars rating

It is important to look at the application beyond the rating with the stars. Over 90% People base their decisions on reviews, and malicious developers abuse that trust by planting fake reviews in their applications.

Reviews, therefore, when viewed with the right eye, are one of the most important things to check when downloading a new application. It is not enough just how many stars an application has, but you should proceed with the comments and even the bad comments and complaints.

If more than one or two people warn that the application is fraudulent or contains malicious information, be careful. Even if the comments are vaguely exaggerated, such as "my phone broke", it is better to be safe than sorry afterwards.

If the app has a lot of good reviews, look to see how similar these reviews are. Usually, fake reviews are short, enthusiastic comments with general statements. For example, “The best app! I like it very much". They usually do not point out any specific features.

The main thing to look for is quantity. If there are many short, similar reviews, they may have been pasted or created by a bot.

Finally, scammers are not known for their excellent customer service. If the developer responds to comments, this is a good sign that the application is legitimate. Especially if they are trying to help people with their complaints.

The logic of reading reviews and even filtering them, applies to any kind of online marketplace. From booking a hotel on Booking to eating at a restaurant found on Google Maps. Always read what others write. Let alone that sometimes these comments are really fun.

2. Carefully read the description of the application

Spelling and grammar problems do not always mean that an application is dangerous. It may simply mean that the author's writing skills are not as high as his or her programming skills. But if the text is full of keywords it is a more reliable red flag.

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And an honest developer of course will put keywords in the sentence. If the text starts quoting search terms instead of describing the product, this is a red flag.

You should also pay attention to enthusiastic but non-specific descriptions. The broad promises that you will solve all your problems or that it will run perfectly all the time are seldom true. A trusted application can name specific functions and explain how they will help you. Scammers are more likely to generalize.

If the app offers in-app purchases or subscription plans, it should provide even more details. If the description does not tell you what specific benefits your payment will give you, it is a red flag.

Similarly, applications that do not provide details about what their application can do may be hiding something. Be careful when the description is vague.

3. Check the number of downloads

Start by looking at the release date. If an app is new (not one or two years old) but has millions of downloads, this is a huge red flag. It is possible that the numbers are artificially inflated. Malicious developers do this by using bots or fake accounts to download their application over and over again.

There is no rule as to how many downloads you should worry about. But you can use averages to create a frame of reference. It is difficult for a new application from an unknown publisher to reach 500 downloads by the end of its first month.

Most new applications do not have many downloads at least at the beginning of their existence, or until they become known. This is why high download rates from unknown publishers are suspicious.

It is almost unheard of for a new application to achieve tens of thousands of downloads in just a few months. If that happened then we would all be in the news. If the application is really successful, there will be at least a few tech magazines and websites talking about it.

An application that has taken many years to increase the number of downloads can be more secure. Many fraudulent applications have a short lifespan and are removed when reports against it accumulate. But you should not trust an application just based on its age and popularity.

4. Check the Permission List

If the application asks for device permissions that do not make sense to it, beware !. You can check the permissions of an app in the Google Play Store.

Go to the application page, scroll down to "Additional Information" and then click on "Permissions - View Details". It will show you a list with a summary of what permissions the application is asking for.

An application is suspicious if it does not state why a license will be needed (or at least if it is not obvious). For example, a request to listen to the microphone would be a concern in a Solitaire game application. But it makes perfect sense in a video editor.

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Be especially careful with applications that require dangerous permissions. Dangerous rights are those that allow an application to read, receive, or write sensitive information. For example, your location, saved files, phone calls, text messages, audio.

Malicious developers make a profit by selling this information or keeping it for extortion. Once an application has access to your sensitive data, it may then be difficult or impossible for you to recover your privacy. It is better not to risk granting access from the beginning.

5. Find the developer website

You can find the website by clicking on the developer name in the Google Play Store. Examining other developer applications can also give you clues. If the developer has only a small number of applications, but ridiculous download numbers, it is a red flag. If it has many applications, but the only clear difference is the name or color of the icon, it is also a red flag.

Honest developers have no clones. If the developer imitates popular products or says that their application is a discounted version, do not click! The actual developer will simply make a discount on the price and not a separate download.

6. Pay attention to the Installation Process

Some malicious applications hide things from you through the terms and conditions. These insidious developers know that most people will click "Accept" without reading the text. So they make you consent to data mining, data sharing, pop-ups and all sorts of other things. The solution is to read carefully.

If your application has terms and conditions when you open it, read them. If it is very difficult to understand them, try using a plain language translator such as Rewordify. If it is still very difficult to understand, it may be best to close it and uninstall it.

Apps that want you to agree on a lot of extra things can try to steal your data. Be especially careful if they do not seem to be interested in helping you understand why they need it.

Enjoy calm while shooting

Your personal data is valuable and worth your time for protection. These steps can also get you out of trouble. With only one or two moments of reading and a little common sense, you can feel confident about your downloads.

However, applications are not the only way malicious programmers can access your data. Make sure you do regular phone maintenance and use a good virus scanner!

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