Calgary consumer warns about app security after being hacked twice


A self-proclaimed app fanatic is warning about the security of mobile applications.

Calgarian Chermaen Lindberg said she got an email from PC Optimum advising her of a change in her household account.

Her rewards points balance was pretty much wiped out by two strangers who, unbeknownst to her, had fraudulently joined her family profile.

“I had been saving up my points for our year-end redemption,” Lindberg said.

Shortly after, Lindberg also received an alert from McDonald’s. She had signed up for the app because of the convenience of being able to order and pay online.

It turned out that someone else liked the convenience as well.

Mount Royal University computer science professor Charles Hepler told Global News the security of apps is a “mixed bag,” largely due to certain sites being more secure than others.

“If you’re downloading apps from a third party, someone other than the Play Store or the Apple Store, you’re running someone else’s code,” he said. “You don’t know what it does on your phone and it can do anything.”

Hepler said phones, in general, are less secure than a website on a computer.

“When you’re logging in on the web, you are running everything inside of the browser,” he said.

“So for someone to get access to data on your computer, they have to know what computer you’re using and they also have to know the browser that you’re using. Then they have to break out of the browser and then break into the computer.”

If you install an app on your phone, the program is there and so is the potential for a hack, making it easier for data to be accessed on your device.