When Apps Get Sold
- Published: Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021
What happens when an app or extension you are using gets sold to another party? Many times there is no way of knowing this has occurred. Recently, 'The Great Suspender' was removed from Apple and Google Play stores, and users got a pop up on their browsers that stated "This Extension Contains Malware." The app was automatically disabled. The purpose of this free app was to suspend tabs in the browser that were not currently in use in order to prevent them from running background processes. In a nutshell, the developer apparently sold the code to another party, who then altered the code with malicious intent to exploit the users with tracking, advertising fraud, etc.
This leads to the question, how can you trust an app is secure?
Falling back on best practices, make sure that you read reviews and obtain software and apps from well-vetted stores, like Apple and Google Play. Keep your apps up to date and remove any apps you no longer use. Updates usually contain bug fixes and security patches. Failure to keep these applications current can leave a user at risk. Downloading apps from lesser-known sites comes with inherent vulnerabilities. Years ago, I heard a story about a school using an app from an independent programmer and, at first, the developer was eager to help the school in making the program perform well and troubleshoot issues. Finally, the developer said they were lucky if they could buy a cup of coffee off of the money they made from the app. Essentially throwing up his hands and displaying a good luck with that attitude.
There is no sure way to make sure that the apps you use are secure. But there are precautions you can take to reduce your likelihood of threats.