Downloading Google Play Store apps for phone? Beware! Do these 5 things first

Do you often download apps on your Android smartphone from the Google Play Store? Then look out for these signs before downloading an app.

If you are an Android phone user, you may have downloaded hundreds if not thousands of apps to date. The Google Play Store offers millions of apps for every imaginable task. Want new widgets on your phone, you have an app for that. If you don’t like the look of your home screen, you can customize it with downloadable launchers. You can even find similar, if not better, replacements for stock apps like file managers, music players, and more.

However, unlike Apple, Google doesn’t check apps on the Play Store very heavily for malware and hackers, meaning some malicious apps often slip under the radar. When downloaded onto your smartphone, these apps can not only steal your data but potentially compromise your financial information, expose your phone to hackers, and even jam your phone, leaving you a worthless and overpriced paperweight.

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Luckily, there are a few signs to look out for before downloading an app. According to Sun UK, there are four big red flags to look out for when downloading an app from the Google Play Store, says Adrianus Warmenhoven, cybersecurity expert at NordVPN.

See the app permissions

With the new Android updates, when downloading an app, you will be asked for different permissions depending on the purpose. For example, a photo editing app may request access to your storage space, camera, microphone, and photo gallery. However, you should always be on the lookout for apps that ask for unusual permissions like access to your personal data, contacts, and more.

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Check the reviews

Always check app reviews before downloading. People post app reviews based on their user experience. Warmenhoven explains: “It sounds obvious, but users monitor the apps they use all the time and aren’t afraid to alert others if they find problems.”

See the number of downloads

Each potentially malicious app can only have a handful of downloads. So only download apps that have already been downloaded a respectable number of times. Warmenhover said, “There have been instances where download counts have been manipulated by scammers, so if an app claims millions of downloads but has only been out for a few days, you should definitely smell a rat.”

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Read the app description

The Google Play Store provides an app description along with information about the app creator. You can click on the developer’s name to see a list of other apps they have developed. Therefore, only install apps from trusted sources.

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