How Outdated Apps Put You At Risk of Cyberattacks

In 2020, mobile apps are expected to generate close to $190 billion in revenue. A visitor to the Apple App Store can choose from over 2.2 million apps that are available for download. A visitor to the Google Play Store can choose from over 2.8 million apps.

Twenty-one percent of millennials will use apps 50 or more times each day. About 49 percent of people throughout all age ranges use apps at least 11 times a day. On average, a smart phone user will download 30 apps monthly. About 58 percent of digital media comes from mobile apps.

Mobile apps play a vital role in modern life. The reason app usage is so high is that apps have been designed to be easy to use and make it possible for people to do a complex task from their cell phone. Nowadays, traders can use an online trading platform app for investing and make money wherever they are – more since online trading platforms have become incredibly popular in Canada and US during the pandemic. You can buy the things you need, sell the things you want to get rid of, communicate with friends and family, enjoy entertainment, and even learn from apps.

For all their benefits, apps can pose a security risk. Apps need to be constantly updated to protect against security vulnerabilities. Therefore, updates are essential.

updating phone

Why Do Outdated Apps Pose a Security Risk?

Technology moves at an alarming speed. Innovation pushes things forward. The result is that an app that offers the newest features and has up-to-date security quickly becomes outdated. Software has a short life cycle. That life cycle is prolonged with updates and upgrades.

When an app no longer has an update to sustain it, it becomes outdated, resulting in cyber security risks. As an app becomes outdated, it loses the ability to integrate with new applications or to run safely on devices. Outdated software lacks the patches to vulnerabilities that have been found, making it susceptible to advanced cyber attacks. The potential security risks stem from nefarious actors and system failures.

Just imagine how failing to update a stock trading app or a banking app could put your financial information at risk. Many top stock apps like Stash and Robinhood have become incredibly popular with millennials, but the rapid growth comes with potential security holes. Updates are necessary but make sure they’re from a legitimate source.

How Application Updates Protect Your Devices from Cyber Criminals

Most people are guilty of procrastinating when it comes to doing app updates. We get the notification to update an app, but it appears while we are in the middle of using the app or while we are engaged in an important activity. To avoid interruptions, we might hit the remind me later button or ignore it.

Far from being a nuisance, these apps include updates that are important. The updates offer fixes to address known weaknesses in the apps. If your apps are not up-to-date, you are giving cyber criminals free rein to identify vulnerabilities and use these maliciously. Cyber criminals can steal your data, infect your device with malware, and take control of your device.

App updates are provided as soon as vulnerabilities have been identified. The sooner you update your app, the less time cyber criminals have to take advantage of vulnerabilities. Updates are not solely to provide additional security features. Many updates fix bugs and make improvements so that your app will work better.

The next time a notification appears to update an app, instead of clicking the ignore button, make it your habit to install updates when they become available. This includes updates to your device’s operating system, plug-ins, antivirus software, and other types of applications.


Identifying Fake Updates Versus Legitimate Software Updates

In the non-digital world, common sense prevents us from doing dangerous things. For example, if a stranger came up to you with a piece of candy, food, or medicine and told you to ingest it, you would not do it because you don’t know the individual, you don’t know the source of the item they are asking you to ingest, and common sense says this is a dangerous situation.

Unfortunately, some are not using the same common sense when downloading updates for their apps. During the pandemic, a lot of people downloaded apps to increase their productivity while working from home, or just out of boredom. That was the ideal chance for cyber criminals to release fake updates to steal valuable data knowing that users don’t really read what’s the update about. They receive pop-ups telling them to download an update and without giving it a second thought they hit okay.

If you get an email to alert you about an update, it is likely invalid. Update notices come from the app installed on your mobile device or on your computer. The update should appear in your system tray.

If you do receive an email that you think is legitimate and there is a download link, hover over the link to see the actual download location. If the download location does not match the link text, this is a clear sign that you are being asked to install something that is not legitimate.

Browser pop-ups are another source of illegitimate update requests. These dangerous update requests have become more sophisticated. In times past they were easy to spot because of clear grammatical issues and spelling errors. These telltale signs of illegitimacy no longer exist. Instead of agreeing to install an update that appears in a pop up, it’s best to go to the software’s site and see if there are any updates and install them from there.

Should I Automatically Update My Apps?

As mentioned at the outset, most people have dozens of apps installed on their smart phones. Manually updating them is a chore. The option exists to automatically update many apps. But is this the best thing to do?

phone update apps

Automatically updating your apps, for example, those that come from Google Play Store, is a safe way to keep your apps up-to-date. Some people like to check the change logs on their favorite apps before they update them. As mentioned, updates offer not only security features but may change some features of the app. There is the chance that a developer will roll out an update that limits the functionality of an app. The last thing you want to do is automatically receive a bad update and then need to search for the previous APK to get your app working again.

The vast majority of people will auto update their apps. This way, they don’t have to worry about security issues and know that their apps and their devices are protected. Whether you choose to automatically update your apps or update them manually is a decision based on your preference. What is important is that you keep your apps updated to lower risks from cyber attacks.