Can App Permissions be Misused?

Can App permissions be Misused - Disconnected Life - Secure Camera App - Understanding Made Simple
Can App permissions be Misused – Disconnected Life – Secure Camera App – Understanding Made Simple

Absolutely, app permissions can be misused! 

There are many articles on the web which detail how can app permissions be misused. You can read some of them here

However, we shall try to explain this in a way that’s easy to understand.

Let’s use a simple analogy to describe what happens when apps get permissions and how they might misuse them:

Imagine you hire a gardener (the app) to take care of your garden (a specific task like sharing images or reading SMS for understanding financial habits). When you hire them, you give them the key to your garden gate (permission to access a part of your phone).

Now, a good, honest gardener will just do the job they’re supposed to do – take care of your plants and nothing more. But, suppose this gardener has bad intentions. Since you’ve given them the key to the gate, they can not only tend to the garden but also peek into your windows (access other information) or even listen to your conversations (gather more data than needed). While your intent to give the permission was only for taking care of the garden, the gardener is now using the same access for misuse and get information that is not intended to be shared. Similarly, app permissions can be misused by any app that has access to various sections of your phone such as contacts, SMSes, Photos, Gallery and more.

How can you check that an app does not misuse the permissions granted to it?

  1. Getting More Than Needed: When you give an app permission to access your SMS for a specific purpose, like tracking your spending, it technically can read all your messages. This means, apart from seeing your bank alerts, it can also see other personal texts, which might contain sensitive information.
  2. Misusing Access: Similarly, if an app has access to your gallery to share images, technically, it can see all your photos and potentially use them for things you didn’t intend, like creating deepfakes. This is like the gardener who was supposed to only tend to the plants but ends up doing something else with the access you’ve given them.
  3. Trust and Verification: This is why trusting the app (or gardener) is crucial. Always download apps from reputable sources, check reviews, and understand what permissions it asks for and why. It’s like doing a background check on the gardener before hiring them.
  4. Regular Checks: Just as you would occasionally check on what the gardener is doing, regularly review the permissions of apps on your phone. If an app doesn’t need access to something for its primary function, it’s safer to not give that permission.
  5. Understanding the Risks: It’s important for users, like your parents, to understand that while most apps use permissions responsibly, there’s always a risk that some may misuse the access. Being cautious and informed is the key.

In summary, just like you would be careful about who you give your house keys to and for what purpose, be cautious and thoughtful about which apps you give permissions to and why. This helps keep your personal information safe and prevents it from being misused.

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