Is that gaming app you’ve downloaded worth losing your identity or job?

We all enjoy an online game or two, right? How often do you see people playing a game of some sort on their phone or laptop while they wait for their bus, takeaways, or for their coffee to arrive? More importantly, how many are using their work devices to play those games?

Installing fraudulent games and other applications is one of the fastest ways to get malware on your device. There are plenty of legitimate games available. There are also games hiding malware to steal your credentials, follow you using your location tracker, read your private messages, steal your passwords, and cost you money by making lots of SMS calls to premium numbers. They can also go on a shopping spree with your bank account and credit cards.

Recently, WORDLE, a trendy game played online via the New York Times website, started appearing as fraudulent applications with malware in them. Criminals tricked people into downloading fraudulent applications that installed malware on their devices.

So how do you know if you are installing a safe application?

These simple steps take less time to follow than it takes to get rid of malware on your device:

Avoid third-party app stores

Stick to the known ones, e.g., Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, to name a few.

Look out for fake apps and scams

Find out who the developer is and do a google search on their name. The more apps they have created, the more likely they will be legit. Look at the published date for the app. If it is recent, it may be a fake. Lots of downloads an app has had is a good sign. Fake apps tend to get taken down quickly. Online reviews can be helpful too. The game might be legitimate, but it may have been written poorly and might cause other problems with your device.

Check the permissions

All games have an ‘About this game’ page with information on the application. Information about the permissions they want is usually buried at the bottom of this page because most people can’t be bothered looking for it or don’t know to look for it. So scroll down this page until you see ‘App permissions’ . Don’t install it if the app asks for permissions that you are uncomfortable with, e.g. access to the location tracker or the ability to read your emails.

Keep work and personal activity separate

Don’t be tempted to download games onto a work device to use at home or on the road. Anything you download onto a work device has the potential to jump to other work devices. Is that game worth having to explain to your boss how you took down your entire work’s computer system?

Too late, I’ve already installed malware!

If you think you’ve inadvertently installed something harmful, take your device to your local IT professional or mobile phone shop. They can help you clean it up quickly. The sooner you act, the better.

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