If you’re one of the 7.5 million people currently as obsessed with “catching ’em all” as we are, then you may have also wondered just how cyber-safe the viral Pokémon GO app really is. Like all of our favorite games and gadgets these days, it’s never easy to tell just how much personal information we are unknowingly doling out. In fact, users had quite the scare on Monday when it came to light that the Pokémon GO app had apparently been granted “full access” to gamers’ Google accounts.
This security flaw, however, appeared only to affect those who signed up using their Gmail accounts, not those who created a new Pokémon GO account.
The finding prompted a surge of fear around the possibly that by playing the game, users had given away access to their email, documents, photos, browser history and more by linking their accounts with Google. The app’s developer, Niantic Labs, got wind of the security issue and put out a public statement promising that they would soon reduce their permission grants to only “the basic profile data” they need.
In the meantime, all you GO addicts can rest assured that Niantic won’t be digging into your emails or bank accounts anytime soon. Still, we say why not be better safe than sorry, and keep your Google account separate from your gaming life. When downloading the app, simply tap “Create account” instead of entering your Gmail information when prompted, and you’ll have steered clear of dishing out any personal info to the virtual world.
Plus, if you are permanently paranoid about info access on your phone, there are a ton of ways to keep your data reserved for your eyes only. Here are a few tips for maintaining security up there in the “Cloud.”
1. Limit your apps’ access
Before downloading an app, make sure you always read the “permissions” section so you know exactly what information you are giving out. Often, you will have the choice to limit the number of other apps you grant access to.
2. Stay disconnected
Avoid logging in with a social media or email accounts when you download a new app. Instead, create a new account on the application itself, so you are not linking it with your other personal accounts.
3. Download a security app
Try installing a permission-restricting app like Permission Denied or LBE Privacy Guard.
4. Use personal Wi-Fi instead of public networks
Remember, public networks are open to everyone. That means that whenever you use a public Wi-Fi network, you are opening up your device to anyone in that network with amateur hacking skills.
The bottom line is, keeping personal info safe on your phone is not as tricky as you might think, and it definitely shouldn’t hold you back from catching those ‘mons.