Dangers of Popularity for Mobile Apps

Casual gaming, and even advanced gaming, is exploding on the mobile. Health and fitness apps are also gaining in popularity. Apps continue to grow in niches as well, famously or infamously, the Iowa election app is an example of a niche app that was quite popular with its intended audience.

The Iowa caucus was one of the more widely reported incidents, however any application that collects user data is potentially subject to data breach.

It turns out that much of the functionality which used to require a native app can be delivered on a mobile website, especially mobile PWA or Progressive Web Applications. Of course this can vary quite a bit cross various web and mobile app genres, the Iowa caucus app is also a great example of an application with core features and functionality that users desired which could easily have been developed with a mobile website even a progressive web app would have served nicely here. This app is also a great example of The perfect storm where we have a broad audience of more casual users who are generally less tech-savvy, and a mass burst of installs of an app that didn’t really need to be installed.

Pretty much any app can also be a risk for the users data. Oftentimes it is not obvious to the user, in other words it’s not just about contacts emails phone numbers. Apps often collect data in the background such as location. Free to use apps that monetize with advertising are the most common and frequent collectors of such data as it is valuable for delivery targeted advertising maximize publisher revenue.

The features that necessitate a native app are often at odds with the features that users care about. Many times the feature that the users are looking for when they install an app in the first place do not actually require enabled app. But the features that the app publisher would like to leverage for monetization are much more effective when implemented with a native phone application. This often puts at publishers in conflict with their end users. Vast majority of the time, there is no the nefarious motivation by app publishers, but rather they are simply looking for ways to monetize the app in order to deliver services and features that their audience desires with little or no direct cost to the end user. However, this still does great potential risk and do something that users should be aware of when installing apps.

Mobile gaming casual gaming also increasing in popularity with more casual users, who may not realize the potential risk of installing on the phone. Casual users are also less familiar with how to control configure security privileges of the applications installed on their phone, as well as how to monitor data is being shared with publishers. There is no easy answer. For the more casual users out there, let’s hope that combination of awareness along with the waning popularity of native apps reduces overall risk. Power users can help spread the word to the more casually inclined among their friends and family, or even lend a hand for configuring security settings on the phones of the casual users among us.

In the meantime, stay serious with this fusion of The LOX | Secure The Bag. And if you happen to be on a mobile, mXf is a PWA – no mobile app installation secure issues here 🙂

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