privacyA reader asked about all those “permissions” requested by phone and tablet apps during installation. What do they want?

Are they recording us without our knowledge? Taking our picture? Reading our contacts and sending unsolicited emails to our friends? “Even paranoiacs have enemies,” the reader said, using one of Bob’s favorite lines.

Before you install an app, ask yourself if the permission request makes sense. Remember: most permissions are necessary to make the app work. A common permission request, according to LifeHacker.com, is permission to access the Internet. Most likely, this is to display ads from the program supplier. It’s time to worry if the app asks for permission to read your files. These two permissions put together would let the app post anything you had there, including photos, to the Internet.

There’s an extensive description of the pros and cons of granting permissions at goo.gl/7Bqak. (What an address, huh?) If you don’t want to bother about things like that, stick with the most popular apps.  If in doubt, check the app’s description in iTunes or the Google Play store.

Finally … we recently installed Avast Mobile Security, which is free from Avast.com. It has a privacy adviser that can scan your apps and tell you if you’re safe. It tells you which apps track your location, which read information about your identity and which ones can read your messages, contacts and accounts. It can even verify a phone number before you call it. We have over a hundred apps on our smartphone, but Avast told us our phone is still safe from prying eyes.

One Response to “WHO’S OUT THERE?”

  1. I think that the Avast security app (“SecureLine VPN”)may be free to download now but eventually purchase is required to continue using. I installed it on my phone but, when I installed/executed it on my iPad I got a message that my “subscription” had expired. I think I have used this app in the past but I’ve never bought a subscription to it. ?????