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Android App Permissions: What They Are and What They Do

Android App Permissions: What They Are and What They Do

Better understanding the purpose of Android app permissions can help improve your phone’s data security and privacy

When you download a new app for your Android device, a permissions window will appear, stating what the app wants to access on your phone. Although you’re probably used to this, have you ever wondered why this happens? Do you know what these app permissions are for? Understanding exactly what your apps are requesting can go a long way toward keeping your data protected.

Some apps aren’t on the “up and up,” and are actually installing malicious software on your device, or even stealing data. In many cases, these thefts could have been prevented if the user had simply paid closer attention to the requested app permissions.

What Is an App Permission?

Every app you download will list permissions when first installed. This is the app’s way of requesting access to other apps and data on your phone. For example, Android apps may request access to your SMS messages, photo gallery, or location information.

Before you begin to panic, consider what the app is requesting, and whether or not it is actually required. Permissions do not appear in order of severity, so unless you take a moment to understand what an app really wants, you may miss your first clue that an app is up to no good.

Common App Permissions

1. GPS and Network-Based Location

Many developers use the information they acquire to better market to their target audience, and make some extra money. For example, an app may request location information, so it can serve location-based advertising. However, do realize that some permissions do make sense. If a travel-related app requires access to your location and maps, the reasoning is pretty clear.

2. Phone Status and Identity

Malicious developers may take advantage of this phone status permission by snagging your personal information, like your app history, to learn more about you. Sometimes, an app does need to know if your phone is going to ring, so it can pause your gameplay, or let your operating system have audio control. However, it’s still worthwhile to think about why a developer would require your phone status before agreeing.

3. Contacts

When deciding if an app requires certain permissions, it’s helpful to ask yourself what the main purpose of the app is. This can help you determine if an app is in fact trustworthy. Some apps require access to your contact information to properly function. Twitter, for example, will need access to your contacts, so check-ins can be socially shared via email or text.

4. Common Sense Counts

When you install a new Android app, tap permissions to see a more detailed account. It will enable you to better decide what an app will do with your information. Most apps are entirely harmless, but it’s the rogue few you need to watch out for. Help keep your phone safe from malware and viruses with PSafe TOTAL. This app’s antivirus software can keep your data secure during online browsing. Want to learn more about app permissions, and what Android is doing to keep your data safe? Check out our latest blog post on the topic.