Tougher consumer protections against malicious apps?

Published on:
September 11, 2022

There are millions of applications available worldwide and there is no debate that these apps have made our lives more efficient and have improved the way we do things. However, the more commonly used these apps become, the more at risk we are to some of its adverse effects. One in particular is the opportunity of malicious apps.

Malicious apps contain software that are full different viruses and spyware. There main purposes are to harm your device and to collect data. The data collected is often used to commit various criminal activities such as fraud.

To help combat this, the department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) have come up with plans to create more stringent protections against these apps. The DCMS proposals were heavily influenced by the report commissioned by the National Cyber Security Centre. This report highlighted the adverse effects that malicious apps can have on our devices.

One of the main reasons why malicious apps have been so prevalent in our society over the recent years is due to the relaxed security measure that apps stores have. Most app stores do not have a vigorous screening process, which means that they often fail to detect malicious software in apps.  It was reported that one the UK’s biggest app stores discovered and removed over 1 million malicious apps in 2020. While these figures are shocking, they highlight how urgently the government needs to act.

Key changes proposed

The government have proposed a new code of practice for app developers and store operators to execute. This new code of practice includes a meticulous vetting process to ensure that only genuine apps make it on to the store platform. The code also aims to have an effective reporting process in place so that any issues will be addressed and dealt with quickly. Developers will also receive detailed feedback from the app store when necessary. The code of practice intends to protect the interest of users so that they feel safe when using and downloading apps.  While this may appear to be an effective plan, the government have proposed to make the code of practice voluntary. Without this being a mandatory requirement, it is hard to see how successful this will be.

Another potential issue is the ever-growing digital market, new technological developments are constantly evolving, will the governments’ proposals be able to keep up with future advancements?

The DCMS considered this and have come up with ways in which apps could help future-proof the proposed reforms despite any prospective developments.

Firstly, it is advised that apps have strong security measures to help prevent the threat of viruses. Users should also be fully informed about the app’s security procedures and there should be an effective reporting system in place.

Before the proposed changes come into effect, the government have invited tech industry experts to provide detailed feedback on the proposals and its likely impact. The data collected will be reviewed and the government seeks to publish a response later this year. Therefore, we will have to wait and see whether or not this reform will go ahead.


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