Your phone apps may be collecting your personal info without you - KCTV5

Your phone apps may be collecting your personal info without you knowing it

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The more than seven million apps out there that make life more convenient could also be the ones collecting personal information without the user knowing it and selling it or, even worse, leaving it unprotected and available for hackers to steal it. The more than seven million apps out there that make life more convenient could also be the ones collecting personal information without the user knowing it and selling it or, even worse, leaving it unprotected and available for hackers to steal it.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

There’s an app out there for just about everything from ordering Chinese delivery, tracking sports teams, filtering pictures, banking, breathing and sleep tracking.

The more than seven million apps out there that make life more convenient could also be the ones collecting personal information without the user knowing it and selling it or, even worse, leaving it unprotected and available for hackers to steal it.

“There's plenty of apps that exist that are giving away information that you might not want shared,” said Ramsey Mohsen, digital consultant and business owner.

After downloading an app, many users go through and click agree a couple times to authorize permission to who knows what and then the app is up and running. Most don’t realize everything that the app now knows about them.

“I think the average person really doesn't know what kind of information they're giving away when they use an app,” Mohsen said.

Mohsen has been involved with everything internet for more than a decade.

Most apps retrieve email information, address book, calendar and track location 24/7, when they really don’t need it to operate.

“If something looks fishy, for example, a lot of flashlight apps that exist if you look at the privacy settings and the location it's asking for, a flashlight app likely doesn't need to know your location in order for it to work,” Mohsen said.

Apps will use this information to sell to advertisers. The ad pop-ups within apps target the user.

Apps don’t always keep this information secure.

A mobile security app company recently released a report showing more than 70 popular apps are vulnerable to hackers. Apps like upload for Snapchat, Volify, Cash App, Insta Repost and Code Scanner are examples.

Hacking even happens in some of the most popular and trusted apps, such as Starbucks, who was hacked last year.

If hackers have an email and app passcode, those could be the same passcodes for other thinks like that user’s banking or credit cards.

The FBI warns that GPS location could be used by home burglars and stalkers.

“So, there are apps that aren't trusted or reputable which is really hard to define because if a company like Starbucks had issues with their security it's really tough to say which companies can you trust and which can you not,” Mohsen said.

What one can do to protect themselves is limit the information they share. Do what Mohsen calls an app audit, go to privacy settings and go through each app and when possible turn off things such as location services.

Limiting the number of apps can eliminate risk too -- the more apps, the higher the risk.

“Especially for a lot of the free apps that are out there that are looking for ways to make money and a lot of times that's through targeted advertising in some kind of way so you just have to be really careful,” Mohsen said.

Make sure to only be downloading apps from reputable app stores like Apple, Android or Windows.

For more information on mobile security software designed for smartphones and tablets, click here.

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