Lifestyle

Researchers say apps like Gmail can be hacked easily

That Gmail app on your phone?

Researchers say they've had a 92 per cent success rate hacking it and stealing sensitive information in your e-mail, reported CNBC. 

They also found similar success hacking apps by sites like WebMD, Newegg (an online retailer) and, most worrying of all for those in the US, an app from the bank Chase, which allows users to upload photos of their cheques to quickly deposit them. 

How does it work?

An easy way for hackers to gain access to someone's other apps is through a seemingly harmless app, for example, a wallpaper or a widget app. 

Users who download such apps may not be aware that because the apps all interact on one operating system, a hacker could use the 'harmless' app to monitor a user's activities elsewhere on the phone.

The hacker would do this by using another phone which gets updates whenever there is any new user activity (watch the video above for the full explanation). 

"The assumption has always been that these apps can't interfere with each other easily," one of the researchers Zhiyun Qian said in a statement.

"We show that assumption is not correct and one app can in fact significantly impact another and result in harmful consequences for the user."

So, how does one avoid getting hacked?

Well, know exactly what permissions you're giving when you download any app. 

But in general, also avoid apps from unknown sources. 

Consumer advocate Adam Levin told CNBC: "Users should be cautious and only download apps from trusted sources.

"Do a routine check of your smartphone and tablet, especially if you have little ones using the device, to ensure only apps that can be trusted are the only ones installed.

"Immediately uninstall apps that appear to be from unknown sources or are not necessary."

Sources: CNET, CNBC

 

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