App Permissions – What are they & what do they really mean?
Managing app permissions is something we all should take the time to do to keep our devices, data safe. As we live in a tech obsessed world in which there is an app to help you to do just about anything you can think of. I’ll admit that I myself am a great lover of any and all things apps. I never tire of learning new information with my obsession for Apps. We need to be aware of any possible security risks that come with downloading and using so many different apps on our devices.
For each app you download you will be asked to allow certain permissions for the app to access settings or functions on your device.or allow apps to access either the hardware features of a phone, such as the camera, or a user’s personal information. While for the most part these permission requests are above-board, There are increasing numbers of apps that are not all that they seem & are gaining permissions that may cost you money or hack into other settings or personal data you have on the device.Malicious apps can’t send premium-rate SMS messages or snoop on your personal information without asking permission – unless there’s a security vulnerability, of course. Often, people that install malicious apps could have noticed the problem by staying vigilant over Android app permissions.
Manage the permissions for each app you download
It’s worth keeping a close eye on which permissions each app asks for. Only allow permission to settings or functions which are necessary for the app to run.
You can refuse most unnecessary app permission requests without it causing any problems downloading or using the apps.
There will be a permissions that are absolutely necessary for the app to be downloaded and used on your device. The totally necessary permissions are normally mentioned in the Apps download specs.
Find out what permissions apps already installed have.
To find out which apps already have which permissions on your device you will have to first know which version of android your device is running on.
To find which version of Android your device uses, go to your device’s main Settings menu
About Phone or About tablet.
Scroll down and find Android Version
Some Android versions Examples =
To Review app permissions on Android 5.9
Before you download an app on Google Play (on devices running up to Android 5.9), you may need to give the app permission to access specific capabilities or information on your device, known as permission groups.
Note: This information does not apply to Android Instant Apps. Find permissions for Android Instant Apps.
App permissions for Android 6.0 and up
To review the permissions on your device, follow the instructions under “Turn permissions on or off” above.
Review permissions on app download screens
Google Play shows you which permission groups an app will be able to access. This information can help you decide whether you want to install the app.
You’ll see the most important permission groups on every download screen. If you want to see the full list of permissions an app can access on your device, follow the instructions under “See all permissions for a specific app” below
Once you’ve allowed an app to access a permissions group, the app may use any of the individual permissions that are part of that group. You won’t need to manually approve individual permissions updates that belong to a permissions group you’ve already accepted.
Additional app security on Google Play
Apps on Google Play must also follow Google Play’s policies. Google removes apps that are found to violate these policies. Google also has systems that analyze new and existing apps, along with developer accounts to help protect users against potentially harmful software.
To See all permissions for a specific app
You can review individual permissions and groups used by the latest version of an app available on the Google Play Store.
Using your Device or computer to check android app permissions
For apps you haven’t downloaded yet
Use the Play Store app or Playstore Web page
Open the Play Store app Google Play.
Go to an app’s detail page.
Under “Developer,” tap Permission details.
For apps you’ve already downloaded
Use the Settings menu on your device:
On your device, open your main Settings menu
Tap Apps or Application Manager (depending on your device, this may be different).
Select an app.
Scroll down to “Permissions.”
Permission group definitions
A Real App Example
Let’s wrap up this first part of my app permissions guide by looking at a popular app and the permissions it asks for. I can’t claim to know the reason for all of them, but I’ve speculated where appropriate.
SNAPCHAT requires the following:
Finding accounts on your device, and reading your contact card
Reading your contacts
Your exact location
Receiving text messages
Reading whether you’re on the phone
Reading, saving, and deleting files on your phone
Full access to your camera and microphone
The ability to view information about the WiFi you’re connected to
Preventing your device from sleeping
Turning on the phone’s flashlight
Why are there so many permissions needed for one app?
That’s a pretty long list of required permissions you would think! Most make sense in the app’s context (which is key when analyzing permissions) — you can sign in with other accounts, and when messaging you can share your location, take pictures, and record voice.
The app requests the ability to prevent sleep so that you get notifications even if your phone isn’t awake. As you see, most permissions can be explained, but it’s up to you if you trust the developer with them.
For a more detailed look at what permissions such as the permissions listed in the picture above actually mean and what to watch out for see our next Blog in this series “A Closer look at App Permissions for android apps”