When it comes to cybercrimes, most people have become pretty aware these days. If you were to conduct a simple research, you’ll see that almost everyone has an anti-virus installed on their computers and some might even have more than one. Enterprises and businesses are even more cautious as alongside having a dedicated IT team, they have special software installed on ALL of their computers to make sure no one gets unauthorized access and no malware can ruin their precious files.
However, if you have paid attention to our choice of words, you will have noticed that we have mentioned the term “computer” in both cases. This is because awareness against cybercrime is mostly limited to computers only. So does it mean that your desktops and laptops the most frequently used devices in your life?
The answer is probably a no. Today mobile phones are rapidly replacing computers. Smartphones are being used to do tasks that were previously done on computers, which is why people are continuously becoming more dependent on their phones. But unfortunately, they do not give the same level of importance to their phones’ security.
Day by day, crooks are turning more of their focus to targeting cell phones. The reasons are obvious: they are easier to hack and contain much more personal information in limited space.
Think about it. You probably have hundreds of personal pictures on your phone which people might want to use against you. And even if they are not targeting you personally, criminals can get their hands on your browsing history, cookies, credit card details and other important personal identification numbers that might put your identity in jeopardy. Not only can they sell this information to advertising agencies or even the dark web, you might eventually become a victim of identity theft.
Many people think having a password on their phones is all the defense they need against perpetrators, but they fail to realize that passwords can be easily guessed by brute force attacks or keyloggers. What’s more, passwords play no role if the phone is hacked remotely.
Our phones are so greatly intertwined with our emails and other accounts that it further increases their risk of being hacked. Phones are often used for two-factor authentication in which they are sent codes to verify that the actual owner is trying to access his account, but if anyone manages to hack the phone, the hacker can change redirect the authentication codes to be sent his own phone. If this happens to you, you might eventually lose total control of your own account.
One of the main ways that hackers gain access to cell phones is via the apps installed on those phones. Apps can contain various types of malware, including spyware and ransomware. Many apps pretend to be useful for you and demand money for services, such as fake anti-virus apps, and when you do not pay, they can make your phone completely unusable until you decide to surrender and pay up.
Therefore, securing your phone is as important, if not more, as securing your computers. Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Never keep the passwords your phone came with by default. These are usually known combinations, such as 0000 or 1234, hence they are very easily guessable and the ones that hackers use in the first attempts. Do not use codes that are obvious, such as your birthday or anniversary or even your wife’s/husband’s birthday. These types of information are usually known by many people.
- Try to use a different and dedicated email address just for authentication or password resets. Our usual email addresses are public as we provide them anywhere, so they are prone to be hacked as hackers will know the inbox and outbox of these email addresses will have useful information. It is best to keep your dedicated email a secret.
- Do not download apps from an unknown source. The official app sources such Google Play store and Apple’s App store are always scanning the apps that are available and removing ones that seem suspicious. They are also regularly scanned for malware. Although some apps might still contain hidden malicious objects even if it was downloaded from an official site, the chances of that are much smaller compared to an app that you downloaded from some random website.
- Sometimes it may not seem very obvious that an app might be dangerous for your phone, so make sure you are being always careful while downloading any app. Be very skeptical especially when downloading free versions of paid apps, and make sure you read reviews before downloading.
- Use a VPN on your phone as it establishes a more secure connection between your smartphone and the internet. A VPN protects your location from becoming discovered by anyone who might intercept the data packets while they were being transmitted and even reduces the risks of the data being exploited.
- While customizing the lock screen settings of your phone, make sure that it is set to lock itself as soon as it is not in use anymore. Many people leave their phone unlocked in public places such as their office rooms or classrooms, and this might tempt someone to install a keylogger on your phone.
- For more protection, make sure it erases all data on the phone after a predefined number of failed attempts. This number should not exceed 10, since this might lead someone to eventually guess your right password. In addition, make sure you back up your phone regularly so that you do not end up losing all your data if your phone has to force-erase.
- If your phone has a locator option, such as “Find my phone” or “Find my iPhone”, use it. This will help you find your phone even if you end up losing it, and will also help you find the culprit if it was stolen. Remember to keep your GPS option turned on all the time as otherwise your phone will not be found.
- Even though it might prove to be a hard thing to do, avoid keeping as much of personal data on your phone as possible. Try to move personal or sensitive pictures, videos and documents to more secured devices on a regular basis, such as every two months or so. Decluttering your phone will secure your information alongside increasing its efficiency and performance.
- Update your apps and operating systems as soon as updates become available. Manufacturers are always working on their software to improve its performance and make it more secure, hence delaying updates will only make you vulnerable to more risks.
- Many people make the mistake of accessing their bank accounts using public Wi-Fi. This can prove to be really dangerous as these networks are not secure, hence there might be people who are spying on the data that is transmitted over the network. Be aware of fake networks which promise to be “free Wi-Fi” in busy places like airports or cafes. These will directly deliver your credentials and login details to the criminal who created the fake network.
- Use a screen protector. Even though many people do not acknowledge the usefulness of these covers, they prevent people standing around or behind you from seeing what is being done on your phone. Many people can guess your password or pin code simply by staring at your phone screen from a distance, a simple yet useful precaution.
These were just a few precautions that you could take, but there is so much more than you can do to secure your phone. If you want to know more details and have the strongest defense system for your phone, you should contact the experts of Flint tech solutions. Their Data Security Management services have everything that you might need to protect your data.