Apps rule. It wouldn’t be an understatement if one were to say that we are addicted to apps. At least a portion of our life now belongs to them. Don’t believe me? Take this simple test. Leave your phone at home for five hours straight.
Congratulations if you can do that because most of the millennials felt like they left a part of them at home. The 90’s kids, on the other hand, will keep patting their pockets at least 10 times absent-mindedly checking for their smartphone. That is how addicted we have become of our smart devices. But don’t get me wrong, Applications are not villains. At least not all are.
Google Play Store has frequently received criticism for its less than robust wobbly approach to filtering unsafe apps. Because if you aren’t careful, then chances are that you will be tracked, hacked or worse, conned.
But enough berating Google play. Android is no less safe. It allows the user to install apps outside of Google Play. How? Thanks to Sideloading. For the uninitiated, Sideloading typically refers to media file transfer to a mobile device via USB, Bluetooth, WiFi or by writing to a memory card for insertion into the mobile device. This extra freedom allows for more choice.
But this “freedom” comes with a price. If you aren’t careful, you are allowing yourself to be open to risks. In case you download a pirated app from a shady website, you shouldn’t be surprised if it brings malware onto your system. The very fact that an app isn’t available on the Play Store is a warning sign and you shouldn’t install the app unless you have good reason to do so. If you do install an app from outside the Play Store, be sure to allow your device to scan it for malware when you’re prompted. Leave the Verify apps setting enabled to have Android perform regular scans for malicious apps. If Android warns you about an app, uninstall it.
Then there are some apps that seem safe but request too many permissions. Bizarre permissions. For instance, why would a simple flash light app require access to my gallery, address book, and location? We have had applications asking for multifarious permissions and we just blindly give it to them. But just pause to think that these apps could upload the contents of your address book along with your location to an advertising network’s servers. Similarly, if an app requests the ability to send SMS messages the app may try to send SMS messages to premium -rate numbers and run up charges on your cell phone bill. And we are not kidding!
Permissions are a serious problem in the Android ecosystem. As apps often request too many and there’s no easy way to disallow them without rooting your device, as there is on Apple’s iOS.
It’s important to evaluate whether an app is trustworthy before you give it access to your system. On Android, this means looking at the number of times an app has been installed and checking out its reviews. On the other hand, if an app has four-to-five-star reviews and has been installed by more than a million people, that app is much more likely to be trustworthy. Of course, this isn’t always true — some bad apps manage to trick a large number of people into installing them and reviewing them well.
The reputation of the developer also matters. An app made by Google is probably safer than an app made by some person you’ve never heard of. An app created by an organization you’re familiar with — your bank, for example — is probably more trustworthy than an organization you’ve never heard of.
Cutting to the chase, here are some of the top apps that can harm your smartphone.
10 Apps That Can Harm Your Smartphone.
This app used to be a friendly and easy-to-use photo gallery. It was never flashy, but clear communications and frequent updates saw it steadily grow a well-sized user base. However, it was bought by Cheetah Mobile and the company immediately started uploading users’ data to their own servers. The result, ad filled painfully slow application.
ES File Explorer
This was a pretty good file explorer and was quite famous too. But the free version has been pumped full of bloatware and ad-ware. Moreover, it endlessly nags you to download additional apps via non-disable-able notification bar pop-ups. As an alternative, you could always go for OI File manager or FX File Explorer. If customization is your thing, then, by all means, go for Total Commander.
This one is kind of a shocker. UC Browser is the most popular Android web browser in China and India. It claims to have a “fast mode” that’ll save you MBs of data usage thanks to compression. So then why is it bad? Tracking.
The app sends Users’ search queries without encryption to Yahoo India and Google. A user’s IMSI number, IMEI number, Android ID, and Wi-Fi MAC address are sent without encryption to Umeng (an Alibaba analytics tool), and users’ geolocation data (including longitude/latitude and street name) is transmitted without encryption to AMAP (an Alibaba mapping tool).
As an alternative, one could go for Chrome and Firefox. But privacy concerns will still pertain. A solid all-around privacy protector is Lightning.
A “junk file cleaner” that’s been installed 10 million times and has 85 percent four- or five-star reviews. Should be safe right? NOPE. Most of what it advertises is detrimental to your phone. For example, clearing the cache will ultimately slow your phone down when it needs to be rebuilt, clearing your RAM only leads to more battery usage, and killing running apps does not save your battery as claimed. Greenify is a much better option for reducing apps’ battery drain.
Does what it says; Plays Music. But has lots of ads and more worryingly from a user standpoint, it eats through data plans and destroys your battery. People who’ve commented on its Google Play listing report gigabytes of data being consumed, as well as massive battery drain.
DU Battery Saver and Fast Charge
Another “battery-saving” app with an insane number of downloads. It has 7.6 million five-star reviews. 7.6 million 5 star FAKE reviews! why? An app does not have the ability to change how fast your device charges. This is also the king of adverts – it sponsors almost every ad that you see in any other app and manifests its own ads on your lock screen and notifications bar. Also, all those fancy speed graphs and cool animations? Totally fake. What to use instead? Good old Greenify.
Dolphin Web Browser
An ad-free, Flash-supporting, HTML 5 video-enabled browser. Dolphin Web Browser got 150 million downloads and counting. So then why is not a favourite? Like UC Browser, this is a tracking nightmare. Worst of all, it saves your incognito mode website visits in a file on your phone – go and check. Don’t believe the hype; delete it now.
A collage creator that boasts 120 different frames, addable text, and fun backgrounds. Cool right? Not quite because it boasts of lots and lots of ads as well. Most annoying is the DU Quick Charge ad on the Lock Screen. Crazy about collages? There are plenty of photo editors out there. Photoshop is great for heavy-duty work, or you could also try Google’s increasingly-impressive Snapseed.
Another insanely popular “speed booster, battery saver, and phone optimizer”, Clean Master has 600 million users and 26 million five-star reviews. Yours truly was once a victim of this app and boy was I frustrated! There are a horde of things that is wrong with this app. Firstly, it’s made by Cheetah Mobile. And Cheetah Mobile is famous for packing ads, bloatware, and nag screens into their apps. Secondly, it doesn’t do anything useful. RAM-saving apps were valuable once upon a time, but the Android system has developed so much that they are merely a hindrance. Android now has its own native handler for assigning RAM and ensuring it’s all being used in the most optimal way – in many cases, it even deliberately keeps RAM loaded to help performance.
Almost every Anti-Virus App
They aren’t bad per se, but they are largely unnecessary – that’s why the biggest names in the industry now market their apps’ anti-virus capabilities as part of a larger security package. There are a couple of caveats, however; if you install software from third-party sources (i.e., not the Google Play Store), or if you have a rooted device. Both these situations can open you up to malware that Google has no control over.
So what should you use instead? In this case, it’s not so much what you should install instead, but rather that you need to make sure you’re installing a full-fledged security package from a recognized provider. The apps from companies like Avast and Avira tend to offer additional features such as password-locked apps, remote device wiping, and call blockers.
So there you have it, the top 10 harmful apps that you should safeguard you precious smart phone from.
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