Mobile Security Musts for Everyone
It seems like it was not that long ago that you could regularly bump into people who didn’t have a mobile phone. Today, however, a clear majority of people worldwide are using them. In fact, there are now more than 5 billion people using mobile phones.
While mobile phones add tremendous convenience to our lives, they also come with certain risks. With this personal device, people everywhere are now carrying all their personal data wherever they go. This makes a very tempting target for cybercriminals, who are looking for vulnerabilities in apps and operating systems.
Consider SIM hacking as one example of what hackers are up to. This is the practice of attempting to trick mobile service providers into thinking they are you. What do is try to get the cellular company to transfer your phone number onto their own mobile device. If they succeed, they can access not just your social media, but also your credit cards and bank account. Their potential victims are almost anyone with a cell phone.
It’s not all bad news, however. There are some ways that you can better protect yourself.
This method of authentication has become quite popular. It is recommended as an effective way to keep important information and devices secure. Methods include one-time password verification, QR-code based authentication, and SMS-based verification, which is the most popular. SMS does, however, have a major flaw: if your phone is somehow stolen, cloned, or otherwise compromised, a hacker would be able to steal the code. They would then have access to your apps.
Your phone should be equipped with monitoring and antivirus software, much like any PC would have. This would alert you to any external attacks by monitoring all the files and processes on each mobile device accessing a network.
The advantage to this is that threats can be identified before your system can be compromised by a hacker. When a threat is detected, alerts are issued, allowing them to be removed before causing any harm.
Virtual Private Networks
As tempting as it may be to make use of free Wi-Fi, it is best to refrain from doing so. Accessing such unsecured hotspots in coffee shops and other popular locations should only be accessed if necessary, and then only when using a virtual private network (VPN).
VPNs are generally thought of as a service for use on laptops, but in truth, mobile VPN services may be even more important for phones and tablets. A VPN encrypts the internet connection from your device to the network. This will help to transmit your sensitive data safely and securely, blocking unauthorized users.
What Steps Can You Take?
In addition to the suggestions above, there are a number of steps that you can take yourself to be more secure. Here are some easy ways to help protect your mobile device.
- Keep up to date
You should make sure to keep your apps up to date. Vulnerabilities are constantly being found and patched. Failing to update can leave you susceptible to attack.
- Only download from trusted sources
Rather than taking a chance with third-party apps, stick to more reliable sources. At the very least, check reviews and comments before downloading. Harmful apps are the biggest threat faced by Android users, according to Google. Those using mobile payment on gaming apps should be particularly wary, as these are popular targets for cyber criminals.
- Use anti-theft apps
Apps like the built-in Find My iPhone can help you find your phone, track where it has been, and in the worst-case scenario, remotely erase data.
- Review app permissions
Sometimes, an app will require more than the usual permissions. Make sure they only have access to the features they need. As updates roll out, continue to review these permissions, as updates and bugs may cause them to leak user data.
iOS users can do this under Settings > Privacy. Android users can check under Settings > Apps & Notifications > App Permissions.
- Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi networks
As mentioned above you should avoid this when possible or use a VPN. Also, turn off your automatic Wi-Fi connection feature on your smartphones and tablets.
- Minimize location accessing
Location services or settings allow apps and websites access to and use of information from cellular, GPS, and Wi-Fi networks to determine your general vicinity. Location settings should only be active when needed for a particular app, as opposed to being on full-time. This prevents infected apps from stealing your location information.
- Be cautious with unsolicited calls and messages
Just as you would do with unfamiliar or suspicious-looking emails on your computer, you should be wary of unusual messages and calls. Scan or otherwise verify calls, messages, and emails before opening. It only takes a moment but can save you a great deal of misery.
While using mobile devices does create a certain vulnerability, the exact extent of that vulnerability will depend on the precautions you take. Be sure to do all you can to not leave yourself vulnerable.