Don't be duped by bogus "apps" - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Don't be duped by bogus "apps"

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Have a smartphone?  Then you have probably downloaded apps that you cannot live without and maybe a few you could.

Many of us are careful to ONLY download apps in our phone's official store.  That makes us feel safe.  However, we learned recently that is no insurance policy.

When you shop in your official phone store online, it feels like it has the "Good Housekeeping" seal of approval.  Unfortunately, consumers are learning you might want to think twice before downloading from that store.   

According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, there are more than 250,000 apps that you can choose from online stores and it has created a new cottage industry.  Everyone loves the free or fairly inexpensive applications which can provide news on the go, a game to entertain the kids, or make online purchases. 

But cyber expert Theresa Payton warns us to be careful so you download a good app and not a dud or worse!

THE PROBLEM:

If you have a Droid, Google does not have employees check software and YOU are basically the tester as the consumer.  Google says this is to insure apps get to market quickly and without delay.

If you have an Apple or BlackBerry, you are not completely safe BUT you have a safeguard -- they do have employees checking the software before it goes for sale.

In December, Droid owners were shocked to learn that bad mobile banking apps were in the phone store!  Thankfully the apps were pulled very quickly and it was reported that nobody was hurt by the apps.

The other phone makers have had some apps slip through their quality processes and thankfully damages have been minimal to none so far.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Theresa suggests 3 quick tips to avoid the cyberduds and cyberthugs when downloading apps…

BE SKEPTICAL:  The best defense in this fight?  It's you.  Be skeptical and always double check before you download.

    1. SEARCH:  If you are downloading an application from the phone store, go first to the actual company's website and see if they mention the application
    2. WHOIS:  You can also go to www.whoisdomaintools.com and type in the domain name.
    3. BE A FAST FOLLOWER:  You may want to not be the first in line to download the new app and wait until you can see ratings provided by other customers. 
      Type the name of your phone and the name of the app to see if others have experienced issues
    4. REPORT THE CYBERTHUGS:  Contact your phone services provider immediately

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

TRACKING TRENDS – Stay Informed About the Latest Cyberthug Activity:

  1. Mobile security firm, Lookout, keeps on top of the latest cybercreep trends and how they try to trick you.  See their Company Blog at:  http://blog.mylookout.com/

     2.  The Wall Street Journal Technology section tracks smartphone and other devices for security issues.  See their recent article on smartphones at: 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703340904575284532175834088.html?mod=WSJ_Tech_LEFTTopNews

www.Geek.com and www.F-Secure.com both list banks that had fake banking apps created by "09Droid" that were sold in the Droid store and eventually pulled.  Those apps included some WBTV viewers' banks:

Bank of America, Wachovia, Wells Fargo, SunTrust, BB&T,  and Chase.  For a more complete listing refer to Geek.com or F-Secure.com.

IF YOU SUSPECT YOU ARE A VICTIM – HOW TO REPORT it:

  1. BANK ACCOUNTS:  If you think your may have compromised your bank account, contact your bank and local law enforcement.  Change all passwords immediately using a computer.
  2. SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS:  If you think you may have compromised your Facebook, email, Twitter or other social media accounts, change the passwords immediately and contact each site
  3. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION:  Report all suspicious activity that may involve fraud at www.FTC.gov
  4. SMARTPHONE OR DEVICE:  If you think your device has a malicious application on it, contact your service provider immediately

Apple:

To report an issue with an app, you can do so by calling or submitting it online.  Instructions to initiate a call, chat, or submit a problem online are located at:  http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1933

Verizon / Droid:

Verizon asks that you flag the application for inappropriate content.  See http://search.vzw.com/?do=viewdoc&id=27780&p=5070&supportview=1#flag for instructions.

Documentation of fraud or similar abuse can be sent to Verizon via an email at abuse@verizon.com.

Blackberry:

Go to http://na.blackberry.com/eng/support/blackberryappworld.jsp for support.

WORD FOR THE WEEK:

MEME (rhymes with CREAM pronounced MEEM) – It takes its meaning from a Greek root that translates as "something imitated".  An Internet Meme is content that spreads like wildfire across the internet.  Usually a joke or a rumor.  The most famous meme is Lolcats – which are funny pictures of cats with captions on them that make you Laugh out Loud.  Another familiar internet meme was "Rick Rolling" where people sent  a link tricking people into clicking it and Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give you Up" would play.  You can actually view or build the next meme  sensation at websites like www.cheezburger.com !

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