There are almost 7 billion smartphones worldwide, and more than 80% of Americans own one. They’re our gateway to the world, entertainment center, and shopping basket all in one. Smartphones may also become the backdoor that allows crooks to steal your data and do other severe damage.
In this article, we highlight the risks you should be aware of when using mobile devices connected to the internet. The second part offers simple tips that will help make your phone usage secure with minimal fuss.
What Mobile Security Threats Should You Be Aware Of?
With such a vast victim pool to exploit, it’s no wonder cyber crooks have developed lots of different and effective attack methods. These are the ones to watch out for.
Malware & spyware
Some apps promise the moon and ask for nothing in return. A free app might make your life easier, but chances are they take your data as payment. Such apps may provide legitimate services yet include means for their creators to collect information or even hijack your phone.
Depending on your permissions, they might listen in on conversations or figure valuable info out by viewing your pictures.
While users aren’t directly responsible for data leaks, they feel the impact. We barely register the permissions we give various apps on our phones. These permissions allow companies to collect data ranging from users’ preferences and habits to their personal and payment information.
Trustworthy companies have high-security standards that safeguard such data. Others don’t take cybersecurity precautions as seriously. That may result in your sensitive data getting exposed as part of a breach.
Public Wi-Fi & network spoofing
Not having to use your mobile data when you’re away from home is tempting, especially if your favorite bar offers free Wi-Fi. Even novice hackers can intercept and monitor traffic on such networks since access restrictions are minimal. If you’re connected simultaneously and use your phone to put in your email or banking passwords, they become fair game.
Network spoofing is even more sophisticated and malicious. It involves creating fake connection points that pose as free Wi-Fi. Sometimes they’ll ask you to set up an account for access. Since many people reuse the same credentials, some will likely leave their other accounts open to attacks.
Phishing takes advantage of our trusting nature. Such attacks come through emails, texts, or calls where the other party claims to represent an important contact like your bank or employer. They claim there’s an issue you can resolve by heading to a link or giving over your login details/credit card info.
The links lead to sites that look just like the original. The difference is that the fields you enter your info into collect and feed it to crooks who use it for nefarious purposes.
What Mobile Security Best Practices Should You Follow?
Threat prevention is all about foresight and developing good habits.
- For example, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you carefully consider each new app before downloading it. Does it have favorable reviews, and what do the negative ones say about its vulnerabilities? What permissions does it ask for? And so on.
- Spend some time familiarizing yourself with phishing scams. Learn how to identify, filter out, and ignore such attempts.
- Start using stronger passwords and make sure each is unique. Password managers are secure vaults that can generate and store numerous one-of-a-kind login credentials. You get to have as many as you want but you only have to remember the master password.
- Protect your most important accounts with two-factor authentication. This extra step requires you to enter a single-use code after trying to log in. That way, no one can use the account if they don’t have the other device.
- Install a dedicated antimalware and antivirus app.
- Avoid connecting to unsecured public Wi-Fi.
- Keep your OS and apps updated. Your phone should do this automatically, so make sure the appropriate setting is on.
- Always keep your screen lock on and protect it with your SIM PIN.
Connecting to the world through mobile devices has become second nature for many of us. Bad actors count on people’s inherent trust and lack of concern to use this behavior for criminal gain.
The best thing you can do is to understand that such threats exist and arm yourself with the tools and knowledge needed to overcome them.