When was the last time you went shopping in your app store? There are so many things to consider.
A time management tool to help you track your days.
A photo tool to help you take better pictures.
A game to help you relax after a busy day.
And of course, a security hole that can give easy access to hackers around the world.
What? Didn’t sign up for that?
A team of researchers from the University of Michigan discovered that hundreds of apps in the Google Play Store have a security hole that allows easy access into your smartphone. The issue exists with apps that create open ports directly into your handheld device.
Ports are either physical or electronic. A physical port is a connection point, such as a USB port that transfers data between devices. An electronic port is a door within an application or service that is used to connect with other services or devices. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) access, for example, opens up ports to connect to the Internet and transfer files.
Think that sounds like most of the apps on your phone?
Virtually every application on your device uses these processes in some manner to exchange data and provide you with the service they offer. And they can be opening up a weak link into your system.
According to the team at the University of Michigan, the largest potential problem comes from apps like WiFi File Transfer that connects to a port on their smartphone to easily transfer files from the phone to a computer.
If you use these programs on a local network where security and firewalls exist, your data remains secure. But when you open up programs in a public or even corporate network, the risks rise exponentially. When the Michigan team performed tests, it found potentially vulnerable apps in just a couple minutes of time.
Imagine what would happen in your local coffee shop where you spend the morning trying to get work done.
An open port can be a vulnerability. But it’s important to note that apps, in general, are not always at risk; only if there is a vulnerability in a particular application. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know the source of everything you download and ensure you have proper security in place.
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