Apps available for your smartphone could steal your personal information

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) - Hundreds of dangerous apps available for download on your smartphone, could be putting your security at risk. Now, a U of M expert is explaining how your sensitive data could be stolen, and it all begins with an innocent download.

It stems from a dark secret some app developers don't want you to know about. "Open Ports" are basically wireless transfers of files or data from your cell phone to your computer. But, those transfers and the servers being used could easily be open to hackers without your knowledge.

"In less than an hour, they can find you, target and exploit your phone" says researcher Alfred Chen. Alfred adds, "I think its very scary, that's why I don't have those apps on my phone." The hi-jacking of personal data was most recently found on an app known as "Wifi File Transfer."

Downloaded more than 10 million times, a hacker could also have used it to spread malicious software or simply take over your phone. Older versions of another app called "Air Droid" still exist with default pass codes potentially putting users at risk. "The attacker can attach to a port and do all the dangerous things you allow a pc to do" says Chen.

In total, U of M research found more than 400 apps with dangerous security risks. That's part of the reason they routinely issue security upgrades for more than 100 million devices. In the meantime, Chen says you can protect yourself by taking the following steps:

1) Use secure wifi networks

2) Check with Apple or Google Play if app seems questionable

3) Never download from 3rd party stores

Alfred and his team analyzed more than 24,000 mobile apps for this research project. To see videos of how all this works, click on the link.

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