WINNIPEG — Parents like to believe they know what their children are doing on their smartphones, but secret apps are allowing kids to hide videos and pictures in plain sight.
These “ghost” apps are disguised to look like real applications, but secretly keep information from prying eyes.
One of the most popular app is the Secret Calculator Icon.
The app looks like a real calculator, but when you open it and enter the correct password, you can access an album of photos and apps that aren’t detectable. It has an “intruder report”, which video records anyone entering the wrong password. If you enter an incorrect password five times, there is a “self-destruct” mode that erases all data on the app.
The secret app is just one of many that helps children or even spouses keep a private photo or video on their phone.
Internet security expert Michael Legary talked with 680 CJOB’s Dahlia Kurtz about the apps your kids may not be sharing with you.
“It’s this theme called narrowcasting. Instead of going on Facebook and sharing info on apps we all use, you want to keep things hidden using other forms of apps” he said.
Another example is an app called Secret Tile Game. This app appears as a harmless tile game; however, it doubles as a way of entering your password and then backing up photos and videos. It also has a self -destruct system.
What parents can do
Legary said parents can check out websites that list the top “secret apps”. The sites can even give instructions on how to look for the most recent downloads on a phone.
For example, a parent can use a family app store account that notifies them when their child downloads a new app.
Experts urge parents to be upfront with their children about any type of surveillance they plan to do on their child’s device.
“Make them understand what they are sharing,” said Legary.
There are also educational tools online that help parents start conversations with their kids about digital safety.