Paranoia: Protection from Spy is an Android app that aims to protect its users from people listening in on their conversations or using their device cameras to see where they are and so on. It does this by simply allowing users to block access to the microphone or the cameras on your device, which means that no rogue app or hacker can open an app that would use these two things when trying to gain some information. It also lets users know if an app is sending SMS messages without the user's knowledge as well. Let's take a closer look and see what Paranoia has to offer.
For those looking to keep their devices and their information more secure, they can download Paranoia from the Play Store. In order to use Paranoia properly, you need to give it Device Administrator rights.
Once this is granted, the app does its best to explain and introduce key features of the app to new users that have launched it for the first time.
I wasn't quite sure what I would accomplish – if anything – when using such an app, but clearly the developer feels like there is a very real threat out there to some users. By blocking the microphone and camera access, as I have done in the below shot, it's said that I will be safer from people trying to listen in to my phone conversations and use my phone camera against my knowledge.
I did in fact test the camera blocking feature, and it did do as it advertized, but I was unsure of just why I needed this feature. Now that Android 6.0 is on most modern devices, an app needs to be given permission before it can ever do anything like this, and should you stick to the Play Store, I don't see many users getting into trouble and needing to use an app like this.
There are some settings that Paranoia will allow users to tweak, including adjusting pop-ups and allowing applications to run when blocking is enabled.
The white list is particularly useful for users that are going to use this sort of app a lot of the time, and it's easy to add your favorite apps to this list, such as WhatsApp or Viber.
While Paranoia: Protection from Spy is certainly an app that was created with good intentions, but it doesn't really help all that much. Being able to completely block off your microphone or camera is actually pretty clever to hand off the device to little ones as well as protect your privacy when on public WiFi networks. The SMS part of the app doesn't do too much, but what it does do is alert users to when an app is sending hidden SMS messages, ones that the user would otherwise have no idea about. Regardless of which feature we're talking about, Paranoia doesn't give users any advice or anything like that. Therein lies the problem with Paranoia: Protection from Spy, it does have a role to play, but unlike proper antivirus and security apps, this doesn't advise users or point the finger at offending apps, but allows users to give usage to some apps and block everything else. There will be some out there that find this sort of thing useful, but given the app's price and it's fairly vague and odd feature set, there's much more that Paranoia: Protection from Spy needs to do to be worth it.
- Speed (4/5) – No matter which settings are chosen, Paranoia: Protection from Spy always runs nice and smoothly, without and problems.
- Theme (4/5) – Fairly straightforward and good-looking, there's little to complain in terms of the overall look and feel.
- Features (3/5) – While the app does do what it says – in that it blocks access to the camera and microphones – I don't see this as a way to protect your phone, it's essentially a way of deadlocking a door, it works, but it's not intelligent or that nuanced.
- Overall (3.5/5) – If you want to block access to your microphone and cameras, this is the app that will do just that, but the SMS side of things needs better explanation, and if you're sticking to the Google Play Store and safe websites, you might not even need something like this.
- Simple and easy to use, with some good instructions on how to use the app.
- Good way of blocking access to any and all apps to ensure privacy when on public WiFi, or dealing with sensitive conversations and meetings.
- Tells users if an app is sending SMS messages behind their back and potentially costing them any more.
- Allows users to create a whitelist to make it easy to use common apps on a daily basis.
- Doesn't advise users on what to do or even when someone is hacking or there's a trojan app or whatever installed, it just blindly blocks access.
- Could be considered expensive for an app that doesn't have an immediate use case for a lot of people.
Overall, Paranoia is the sort of app that some will find useful, especially if they're particularly paranoid, unsurprisingly. Still, it's unclear as to just who this app is designed for beyond the extra-cautious out there. With no advice or device scanning on offer, all this seems to do is block access and highlight some rogue SMS messages here and there. Highlighting which apps do have access to your camera and microphone however, might not be as easy to do as just blocking everything. It's basically like building a wall with no windows; it'll stop bad things coming in, but you're given no information about what is going on.