Virtual keyboard is the on-screen keyboard that you can use as a replacement or an alternative to physical keyboards. It is usually available on mobile devices, and it is mostly used for smartphones and tablets. While virtual keyboards are also available for desktop platforms, these are very rarely used unless the users have some kind of disability problems. So, whether you are using an Android or iOS device, be aware of the virtual keyboard that you are currently using.

Most of the time, you can use the default virtual keyboard as provided by the mobile operating system. But, there are plenty of alternatives that you can find on the App Store or Play Store, which will replace the current virtual keyboard that you use. The bad news is that since these keyboards will usually log your typed information as to provide better word suggestions and other benefits, you need to be aware that it might be dangerous for your privacy. Here are 5 privacy risks of using third-party virtual keyboards:

1. It May Come With A Hidden Keylogger

While many third-party developers will claim that they will not store the keystroke data of their users, there have been cases where third-party developers actually embed a keylogger into their keyboard apps. This can be dangerous for you as a user since you use that virtual keyboard every time you type something on your device. The third-party keyboard developers might be doing the logging because they want to display relevant advertising for you, but there is no proof that your data will just be used for this purpose. This is why it is good to stick with the default keyboard app that comes with your device.

2. It Needs Full Access To Your Phone System

Some keyboard apps that you install on your device might need the full access to your phone system, which is strange and absurd. Why would an app like this require access to your camera and microphone, for example? This is something that you need to be aware of before installing this type of application on your mobile device. Take a look at the permission that they demand from you before you install it and see whether it will be detrimental for your privacy or not.

3. It Might Collect Some Private Data From Your Device

Since some third-party virtual keyboards want the full permission for your phone system, it means that it can have full control of your phone when it wants to. It also means that it can access any data stored on your phone, such as SMS, email, phone contact, photos, and the like. If such an app can do that, it means that it can silently collect the private data from your device, which is bad for your online privacy. Since you are the one that gives this app the permission to do that, you can’t prevent it from doing this activity even though you are using a VPN connection on your mobile device. The only way to stop it is to uninstall the app.

4. Leaks From Third-Party Keyboard Apps Are Common

There have been incidents where keyboard apps are leaking the user’s data to the third parties. The apps were collecting the data from their users and stored the data on their servers. However, the servers didn’t have the robust security system necessary for the good data storage requirement, which result in the data getting hacked by unscrupulous third parties. Private data from millions of users are getting leaked to the third parties and millions of people’s privacy are at risk because of this leak. This is why it is very risky to use a third-party virtual keyboard app on your mobile device.

5. The Keyboard Developer May Not Have A Secure Server To Store User’s Data

Before installing any alternative keyboard application for your device, make sure to read the privacy policy of the app developer. How will they collect your data? What types of data are being collected? Where are they stored? In some cases, the keyboard developer doesn’t have the infrastructure necessary to store the user’s data safely. They are using a cheap shared server that can be easily hacked because it has a low-level security. No matter what is the case, it is always better for you to avoid this from happening by using the official virtual keyboard as provided by your mobile platform.

Those are the privacy risks of using third-party virtual keyboards. What you type can be monitored by these third-party apps if you are not careful. This includes your username and password as well as the messages that you type to your friends. So, it will be to your own benefits to always be aware of the risks involving the use of third-party virtual keyboards.