We hear about cybersecurity breaches like the Dyn DDoS attack, the massive Yahoo! breach and the continuous LinkedIn problems, but did you know that your mobile device can be vulnerable, too? Mobile device security is critically important, given how much time we spend on our phones.
As we use our mobile devices more and more, we can’t forget the threat of sensitive data theft, intellectual property theft, hacking, cyber-bullying, and more. When shopping, banking, or sharing personal information online, take the same precautions with your smart phone or other mobile device that you do with your personal computer. There are also some threats unique to mobile devices.
You are most vulnerable using your mobile device when:
- Using public Wi-Fi. Because online data access and international data roaming fees are generally still expensive or limited around the world, many mobile device users seek out free public Wi-Fi connections. Unfortunately, these are excellent places to get hacked. Threats include monitoring your online traffic or tricking you into surrendering sensitive information by leading you to malicious web or data services (to find out about other types of attacks, click here).
- Charging your phone. Be careful when charging your mobile device at an unknown power source like a public charging station. When charging your mobile device via USB, make sure you use a trusted computer. Otherwise, a malicious device could gain access to your sensitive data or install malware.
- Using Bluetooth. Turn off Bluetooth when not in use – leaving your Bluetooth connection unsecured can lead to attacks. It’s not as secure as you think. An attacker can infect your cell phone with malware, use your phone or wireless service, or access the data on your device.
- Leaving your device unattended. Protect your device and do not leave it unattended. Always use a password or fingerprint sensor to protect your device. If you think it’s too much of a bother, take 5 minutes to think about everything you use your phone for – from mobile banking and business emails to social media and private conversations. You don’t want any of that information in the wrong hands. For children or teens, unattended devices can also lead to cyberbullying.
- Your software is outdated. Keep your software up to date. App and OS updates often fix security vulnerabilities, and once those patches are published, hackers can discover the old vulnerabilities (if they haven’t already).
- Downloading new apps. Be careful when downloading new apps. It’s difficult for traditional viruses to proliferate across iOs and Android devices, so hackers use malware hidden in apps instead. Read the reviews and stick to apps in the OS’ official app store (that won’t guarantee the app is safe, but it’ll go a long way to ensure it probably will be). Mobile malware is designed to either steal your data as you use your device or to charge money to your accounts without you knowing it.
- Access is given to minors. Make sure you monitor any child using your mobile device. That’s not just to protect them, it’s to protect you as well. Some threats include gross overspending on game micro-transactions, inappropriate content, aggressive advertising, or being led to revealing sensitive information via careless or misinformed conduct.
- It’s been lost or stolen. This one might seem like a no-brainer, but people sometimes forget about their data when their phone gets stolen. If you’re lucky, the thief will simply wipe the phone clean and try to sell it. A very savvy or very careless thief will try to crack into your phone and access your data or sell it to whoever’s buying with all of your data intact. If your phone is lost or stolen, don’t worry about getting a new one until you’ve changed all of your account passwords to make sure they’re secure.
Remember: once someone has access to your data, they can use it to access your online accounts, buy things with your credit cards or even pretend to be you online. Subscribing to a VPN (virtual private network) such as NordVPN could help tackle some of the concerns listed with features like no log keeping, double encryption and more.
NordVPN has easy-to-use mobile apps for both Android and iOs.
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