If you also store and process a lot of data on your smartphone, partly of a very private nature and from third parties (e.g. photos), you should consider to what extent unrestricted app permissions could be problematic.
It is no secret that many app producers are interested in your personal data. After all, they need to generate some form of revenue with the apps that are often provided free of charge to users. If you don’t pay for a product, then you are usually the product, it is said. But that is not yet a cause for concern. In most cases, the use of our personal data is made anonymous within the framework of the legal data protection regulations.
However, the takeover of WhatsApp by Facebook, for example, has meant that the telephone numbers from the contact directory are also passed on to Facebook. In addition, the discovery of various privacy incidents in the past has also led to awareness of the dangers of unauthorized monitoring. Users are increasingly concerned about data protection.
Are you now wondering what security issues and unwanted consequences the use of instant messaging services and other apps can have for you? Here are a few examples:
- As with other online communication media, messengers also run the risk of sending phishing links or transmitting malware via clickable hyperlinks or transferred files.
- There is a danger that malware of all kinds will be hidden in the apps, especially if apps have been purchased for free on the Internet from less reputable app providers.
- As you already are aware, apps get permissions to perform functions. The permissions allow apps to read data. Thus, there is a risk of hidden access to personal data such as location data, mobile surfing habits, stored contact data or passwords. In addition to the loss of privacy, the misuse of your contact data can also be an unpleasant consequence.
- Problems with copyright can arise, for example, if images that you have not created yourself and for which you do not own the copyright are used as profile photos.
- Unencrypted communication represents a high security risk. Therefore, since April 2016, content sent via WhatsApp, for example, has been transmitted with secure end-to-end encryption. This applies to text, images, video and other files. End-to-end encryption means that only the respective communication partners can receive and read the content.
If you use the Facebook Message app, you should be aware that your communication (unlike WhatsApp) is principally not encrypted! If you want to chat end-to-end encrypted, you need to start a “secret conversation”. How this works will be explained in the next session.