The number of applications available to download on mobile devices has been rising over the past few years and for many of us they are a key part of our lives.

We use apps for banking, shopping, games and communication to name a few. However, how secure are these apps that are downloaded to our devices?

Mobile phone apps that are downloaded from official stores are generally more secure because of the automated and manual examination techniques.

These are used to check the app for malware, drastically reducing the likelihood of malicious apps being downloaded to the device. However, the examination process is not 100 per cent efficient and the official marketplaces can still contain malicious apps.

For Apple devices, third party marketplaces can only be utilised if the user jailbreaks their device, this security modification removes the app sandbox which is responsible for ensuring that apps only have the access to what is required. If malware is downloaded through a third-party app, it will not be under any constraints and may be able to cause more damage to the device.

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If a device is infected with a malicious app, then it may be able to obtain sensitive information such as phone numbers, device information, and email addresses.

To reduce the risk of a malicious app being downloaded:

Apple users should ensure that their device is not jailbroken;

Apps should only be downloaded from the official app store;

Security software should be downloaded on your device to check that no suspicious apps are installed;

Permissions should be checked prior to downloading, if any of them seem unreasonable, an alternative app should be downloaded.