A mobile app is a software program that can be downloaded and accessed directly using a smartphone or devices like a tablet or iPad. In order to use a mobile app, you need to have internet access on your mobile devices. Not all mobile apps work on all smartphones, it depends on the type of operating system the mobile devices have.
You can download apps from Microsoft, Android, Blackberry and Apple app stores that work with your device’s operating system. The app stores include both free and paid apps. When the app is paid you may have to provide your credit card details to set up an account with the store.
Also, when you sign up with an app store or download any app from the store, you have to give permission to the app to access information from your device, which may include:
- Your contact details and email contacts
- Wi-Fi connection information
- Internet data information
- Mountable storage (SD card)
- Call logs
- The unique ID of the device and call information
- Calendar data
- The device’s location
- Device and app history
Some apps ask permission to access data that’s not related to the functioning of the app. If you’re providing access to your SMS, device and app history, contact details etc., someone may collect your data, and share it with other companies to make profits.
Working of Mobile Apps
Every mobile app breathes in its own security sandbox, which is protected by some security features, which are:
- Mobile operating system is basically a multiple-user system in which each app is considered as a different user.
- Each app is assigned a unique user ID by default, which is used only by the system. Permission is set by the system for all the files in an app so that the user ID assigned to that particular app can access them.
- Every process has its personal virtual machine (VM). Therefore the code of an app runs in seclusion from other apps running on the system.
- Each app runs in its own process by default. The process is started by the operating system when any of the components of the app need to be executed, and shuts down the process when it’s not in use. When the app is not in use, the system recovers memory for execution of other apps present on the system.
- It is possible that two apps on a system can share same VM, in this case they also share same user ID and same process. Under this condition the apps can access each other’s files. To use same VM, the apps must be signed with the same certificate.
It is not always possible to know how a specific app accesses the data. So before you download any app, get information on who created the app and with what purpose. Usually the app stores website, email, and name of the developer of the app, if the developer provides it.
If you like an app, but the app store does not provide contact information like email address or website about the developer, the app may be less than reliable.
(Information Source: developer.android.com)