The United Kingdom is finally set to leave the European Union on January 31st 2020. With just a matter of weeks until the deadline, people are still trying to find out exactly what will change – and what they need to do to prepare.

This confusion is even more worrying for non-UK citizens living in Britain. Most will know that they are expected to apply for ‘settled status’ allowing them to stay in the country without needing a visa for instance – but how do they obtain the necessary permit?

There’s an app for that

The Home Office (the government body overseeing UK immigration) has released a new smartphone app to help. EU Exit: ID Document Check runs on Android devices and is designed to guide EU citizens through the process of applying for settled status, ensuring they have the necessary documents and paperwork in place.

All very helpful – except that the app is a security nightmare. According to researchers, there are serious flaws and loopholes that could lead to sensitive personal data being exposed or stolen by hackers.

Tests have shown that the app is vulnerable to very basic cyberattacks. Basic spyware can capture details like phone numbers and addresses typed by users for instance. Slightly more sophisticated malware may be able to capture photographs and passport details.

The app also does not include many of the basic checks used by developers to detect and block hackers. This means that cybercriminals could create malware to target app users without the Home Office becoming aware of the problem until it is too late.

Millions of people are at risk

The EU Exit: ID Document Check app has already been downloaded millions of times, leaving all those people vulnerable to identity theft, fraud or other data-related crimes. The Home Office is keen to stress that none of the flaws have been exploited and that no one has (yet) been a victim of hackers.

The Home Office also keen to remind concerned users that the app is regularly tested to identify and fix vulnerabilities. Whether these most basic issues can be resolved before the 31st January remains to be seen.

An Android-only problem – and a solution

EU Exit: ID Document Check is only available for Android devices – iPhone users will need to complete traditional paper-based applications for settled status. In the meantime, app users can help to protect themselves.

Panda Antivirus for Android will help you detect, block and remove malware before your information is accessed or stolen. Carrying out these checks in advance will prevent hackers from compromising your apps, including EU Exit: ID Document Check, so you can complete your settled status application safely.

Panda Antivirus for Android is free – you can learn more here.
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