These apps collect the most data and are the most vulnerable to hacks
How much do you think about downloading a new app? You check out the site on the app store, read reviews, or maybe get it on the advice of a friend. That’s fine, but you’re not doing enough.
Depending on the app, you may give up a lot of personal information. Some of the biggest names in technology release apps that collect your name, payment methods, location, purchases, contacts, browsing history and diagnostics. Tap or click here for the most invasive apps when it comes to privacy.
It gets worse. When an app has your data, that information becomes more vulnerable than ever. That’s because you’re part of a database that hackers can target. A recent study showed how many apps have access to contact lists. Read on to see why this is particularly scary and what you can do about it.
Here’s the back story
There are a few ways to check what an app has access to on your phone and what data it collects. Unfortunately, not enough people take this crucial step.
Researchers at TechShielder analyzed 10 of the most popular online platforms and social apps, and the results are disturbing.
The table below shows the most hacked apps in the world, along with the average number of Google searches for each app in relation to hacking. The final number indicates the percentage of data the apps have about their users, such as web activity, device information and contacts.
|App||Keyword||Average monthly search volume||Data points stored per app|
|What’s up||WhatsApp hacked||135,000||53%|
As you can see, the three most searched apps for hacking are owned by Meta: Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Meta products also have the most information about the users. Hackers know this, which is why these apps are such juicy targets.
The study also revealed that all the apps on the list collect data about phone numbers and email addresses, while most also collect names, credit card information and cookies. And all of this is shared with third parties.
Other data collection points include how you interact with ads and pages, purchases you make, photos on your device, and content you create.
A frightening statistic is that 80% of apps collect data on your contact list and messages you send and receive. Cybercriminals can use this information to impersonate you and go after friends and family with phishing scams and ransom threats.
So not only do you have to worry about these apps collecting and sharing your data with others, but you also need to be aware that hackers can collect all that information at once with a data breach.
RELATED: Fraud alert: 5 costliest data breaches (plus five states most targeted)
How to stay safe
The easiest way to reduce the chances of exposing your information is to delete the apps that collect the most data. But don’t forget to close your account first!
If you want to continue using these apps, you must at least take the following precautions:
- Use strong, unique passwords — Tap or click here for an easy way to follow this step with password managers.
- Always use 2FA — Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for better security when available. Tap or click here for details on 2FA.
- Read before downloading — Check what the app will have access to on the store page before installing it on your phone.
- Adjust the privacy settings in the apps — These apps offer data collection and privacy options in the settings.
- Review app permissions and settings — Go into your phone’s settings to see what each app has access to.
- Check haveibeenpwned.com — Enter your email address in this online database to reveal which data breaches you may be involved in.
- Antivirus is important — Always have a reliable antivirus program up to date and running on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan with TotalAV for just $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price!
The 30-second privacy check every Google and Facebook user must do today
You should start checking the hidden privacy report in your phone