It can be worrisome to continuously hear reports on major online security and data breaches. The biggest recent cybersecurity stories include the Dyn DDoS attack, the massive Yahoo! breach and the continuous LinkedIn problems.
We continue learning that large businesses and consumers alike are targets to threats associated with cybercrime and online security violation, as information we share and transmit is valuable and can easily be exploited.
One particular growing online security concern we wanted to cover is mobile device security. Recent studies show, that an average mobile user spends over 2.5 hours online via a mobile each day. The convenience of a mobile device has quickly made it the choice for social interaction, news sharing and even shifted our preferences in ways we conduct certain business and financial transactions.
With the increased use of mobile devices, one must be cautious of possible security threats, including but not limited to theft of sensitive data, theft of intellectual property, personal data 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, plus beware of unique threats mobile device users face.
You are most vulnerable using mobile device, when:
- Using public Wi-Fi. While online data access and international data roaming fees remain generally expensive or limited around the world, Wi-Fi connection is often sought by mobile device users. Threats include access to the data on your device and luring the sensitive information from you by misguiding you to use malicious web or data services. Phishing is very common when mobile device user are traced and vulnerable using a public hotspot.
- Charging your phone. Be careful when charging your mobile device at an unknown source, such us public charging station. When charging your mobile device via USB, make sure to use a trusted computer, otherwise a malicious device could gain access to your sensitive data or install new software.
- Using Bluetooth. Turn off Bluetooth when not in use – leaving your Bluetooth connection unsecured can lead to unwanted hacker attacks. An attacker may be able to infect your cell phone with a virus, steal your phone or wireless service, or access the data on your device.
- Leaving device unattended. Protect your device and do not leave it unattended. Always use a password to protect your device – don’t fool yourself into thinking it is easier not to have a password, because you’ll also make it easier for criminals to exploit your data.
- Software is outdated. Keep your software up to date. Security glitches are often resolved in app updates.
- Downloading new apps. Be careful when downloading new apps. Exercise caution to make sure you are not receiving any unwanted and malicious software (malware) hidden within the new game or other application that you are purchasing/downloading. 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.
- Getting exposed to cyber bullying. If one’s device is hacked, photographic, video or web-cam data may often become targets of online theft. Sensitive information can later be used in cyber bullying and/or harassment. This is a growing concern for teenage mobile users where mobile device usage is surpassing over 80%. Some examples of cyber bullying include breaking into someone’s email or social media account to send harsh or untrue messages while posing as that person, tricking someone into revealing personal information and sending it to others, or using the stolen private information to threaten or blackmail someone. Neither kids, adults or celebrities are immune to cruel ridicule if personal information is leaked. Severe consequences are prevalent among teenage population who often lack the necessary support once the sensitive information is leaked and personal security is breached.
- Access is given to minors. Make sure you monitor and secure the online behavior of a child using a mobile device. Some threats include gross overspending on games, access to inappropriate content, being targets of aggressive advertising, or being led to revealing sensitive information via careless or misinformed conduct.
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. Protect yourself in the increasingly hyper-connected world, where online security breaches are more frequent that you think.
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. Protecting your identity in the virtual world is key if you want to protect your private data. Remember: as mobile device use is on the rise, so are the online security risks.