Permissions are currently a trending topic among mobile tech writers and android app developers, for good reason. Permissions should be a word on the lips of every android smartphone owner too, but this is highly unlikely. Every single person who owns an android smartphone should be vigilant when downloading and installing apps to their phone, and fully aware of permissions the chosen app asks for, and whether such requests are merited. The reality is, however, that the vast majority of people are either unaware of such things as permissions and what they represent or frankly have no interest in such matters.
Besides being at risk of a deluge of unwanted text messages and adverts cluttering up their phone, plus a temperamental phone that behaves oddly, they may also fall into the clutches of an even more sinister type of deviant app developer, one who can steal identities, private information, bank details and ultimately money.
Google has Responsibilities
Google is the main player in the world of android apps, just as it is with internet search. Google Android Market is the principal kingdom where android apps exist and Google cracks the whip and lords over both developers and consumers alike… the official home of android apps. As such Google has a responsibility to its customers, to protect them and their device from malicious virus and spyware attacks, a responsibility that Google has yet to fully address.
Certain areas of app consumer welfare have been paramount to Google thus far, mainly in the area of public decency. Google have chosen to banish all apps that have content deemed to be of a certain adult nature… porn, from Google Market, although the way this is judged is debatable. It seems that revealing photographs and videos are a no-no, whereas it’s perfectly acceptable for an e-book full of incest to exist in Google’s infinite app catalogue.
Have Google really taken notice of the rising issue facing android app consumers? Have they cleaned up their act and rolled out a super system to check all apps for virus, spyware and excessive permissions in general? Although they have a vested interest and are most likely taking steps to eradicate the chance of virus laced apps infesting the Market, permissions are a different matter.
It appears that the onus is on every individual android phone user to sift through such permissions and decide for themselves whether permissions are warranted or may, at best, be an invasion of privacy. Besides the fact that most people are unaware of the exact nature of individual permissions and if an app does indeed require such things, the truth is that most people ignore android app permissions altogether. Then there is the other side of the equation; certain people will obsess, and become confused, unsure if they can trust any app or its intentions at all.
It is fair to say that a certain amount of apps that have access permissions are innocent, guilty only of lazy/overworked developers that fail to lock down the permissions correctly.
Be Aware, Be Safe
One of the first steps to take to prevent spyware and virus’s silently slipping into your phone via an android app is to install a security app such as Lookout Mobile Security. If you fail to do the basic checks and install something suspect there is a good chance this will be flagged up by Lookout Mobile Security or similar security app and you’ll be made aware before you open such apps.
Try to make it a habit to check what permissions an app uses; does a simple e-book really need to access your emails, sms, phone book etc?
Picture the scene: You are buying a book from your local book store on the high street and a requisite of your purchase is that the cashier is allowed to look through your bag, purse, phone and letters. Would you buy from such a store? Of course not!
Until this gaping hole is closed by Google, unscrupulous opportunists will get more devious and clever in their attempts to infiltrate you life in the form of an innocent looking android app. Google, it’s time to clean up your store!
==== About the Author ====
Melissa Berks is a writer for Heavenly Android, an android mobile tech website that shares android news, useful tips, phone/tablet specs and reviews and android app reviews. The url is http://heavenlyandroid.com