Ten years ago, mobile security was just a term for most people. Nobody really cared enough to bother about the security of their mobile devices. But today, all this has changed. With the rates of cyberthreats rising by the day, you no longer have that luxury of using unsecured devices.
Sadly, most people are yet to grasp the importance of mobile security – and those who do, don’t know how to go about it. Below we seek to help you understand why you need to learn mobile security and show you eight easy ways to secure your devices.
Why you need mobile security
As technology advances, one of the most conspicuous trends today is that everything is leaning towards smartphones. Critical aspects of our lives, such as banking, marketing, managing accounts, sending business emails, etc. have all been integrated into our smartphones. And while this improves efficiency and convenience, it significantly increases the volumes of data stored on these devices – making them excellent targets for cyberattacks.
In fact, research by Statista shows that as of the first quarter of 2020, over 1.15 million malicious packages were detected on mobile devices. This indicates that you stand to lose a ton of your sensitive information if you fall victim to these cyberattacks.
Among the most common mobile security threats you should watch out for include:
Phishing is the one cyber attack you should always be wary of. With the rise of social engineering, these attacks are getting more sophisticated by the day. Gone are the days of the typical spam email. Attackers have now crafted more hideous ways to trick you into giving up your data.
They take on the features of a legitimate company, say your bank or an online payment service, and may even include their logos to make it more believable. With that, they send you a text message, or email requesting you to confirm your account details. There might also be a link to their malicious site, where they’ll prompt you to enter your details.
If you’re not careful, you will easily share your financial details – and later live to regret that action.
Malware and Spyware
Mobile malware and spyware are another threat that’s on the rise in 2020. As hackers continue to target mobile devices, millions of new and sophisticated malware are created each day. They come in the form of trojans, adware, ransomware, and viruses.
Once infected in your mobile, the malware mines your private data and sends it to third parties. While in most cases this goes to advertisers, spyware can also collect your location details and your contacts, which puts you and the people you know at risk.
Unsecure public wi-fi
It’s often said that public wi-fi is a hacker’s best friend – and that is true. Since most public wi-fi is unsecured, attackers take this advantage to spoof the networks. They use a man-in-the-middle attack strategy, where they create fake network hotspots for users to connect. Once you connect to their network, they can send malware to your devices.
The hacker can also ask you to sign in to the network with a username and password, which they collect and use to steal your data on other platforms. This attack can be costly (ransomware) for organizations and businesses if the employees give up company passwords.
Other threats you should watch out for include sim-jacking, data leakage, physical device breach, crypto-jacking attacks, among others.
What can you do for your mobile security?
From the threats mentioned above, it’s clear that cybercriminals won’t rest until they have access to your device. That’s why you need to arm yourself with a few ways to ensure that your mobile devices remain protected.
Here are eight tips to help you protect your mobile device:
Update your Software and OS
Every software developer sends updates to their app users from time to time. And while these updates sometimes become nagging, they are crucial for your mobile security. An update usually contains security patches for the security vulnerabilities identified on the software.
So, by failing to update your software, you provide an attacker with a gateway to access and steal your data.
Only install apps from trusted sources
Regardless of how badly you want to use an app, don’t download them from third-party sources. Most of these apps are malware-ridden and will only steal your data, and put your privacy at risk. Instead, make use of legitimate sources like Play stores.
Nevertheless, attackers are getting smarter and have infiltrated the ‘secure’ app sources as well. So, be cautious of the apps you download on these stores as well. Avoid apps from developers you don’t know, low-rated apps, or those with zero ratings.
Use a VPN
Your network is the gateway that allows malware and other viruses into your mobile device. Therefore, it’s a crucial component of your mobile security. Avoid using unsecured public wi-fi, and if you must, use a VPN.
Using a VPN app when browsing encrypts your data traffic and blocks out all third-party attempts to infiltrate your network. Whether you want to send an email, shop online, or do your banking, a VPN is your best bet at staying safe online.
Be strict with App permissions
Regardless of how secure you try to be when using your smartphone, a malicious app might still find its way into your device. That’s why you need to be strict with the permissions you allow from your apps.
Continually check on the permissions that each app is using, and delete apps that request for obscure permissions. Similarly, block the notifications and pop-ups from apps that you don’t trust. The faster you manage your app permissions, the more secure you become.
Invest in an antivirus
An antivirus shouldn’t be restricted to your computer alone. Your mobile phone also needs protection from malware and other cyberattacks. An antivirus scans your mobile system, files, and apps, detecting malware and deleting them before they can give out your information.
Pro tip: Having an antivirus can be really helpful in the event of an attack, but it’s not all you need. So, don’t limit your mobile security to antivirus alone.
Use unique passwords
Before looking for anything else, an attacker always looks for your password. If you use one password for all your accounts, then all your details will be exposed if the hacker cracks one of your passwords.
So, ensure that all your accounts are registered with different passwords. The passwords should also adhere to basic strength rules to ensure that they give hackers a hard time.
Use two-factor authentication
Besides having a strong and unique password, you also need to embrace two-factor authentication for your mobile security. Two-factor authentication is a two-step verification security code, sent to your phone or email, that secures your mobile data even when a hacker has your passwords. With this, you’ll easily get alerts when someone tries to access your account or tries to change your settings.
Finally, make sure that you have set up your phone locks, be it a pin, pattern, or password. Modern smartphones also come with biometric locks such as fingerprint sensors, face and voice unlock. These can also be useful security features for your mobile.
Use the basic phone locks
Having a lock secures your data from physical data breaches and gives you control of anyone who uses your device. You can also do this on key apps such as your banking app, messaging, and email apps.
As the rate of cybercrimes continues to skyrocket, mobile security is no longer an option but a necessity. Without it, you might as well say goodbye to all the sensitive files you think are ‘private’. However, if you use the eight tips mentioned above, you might just stand a chance at protecting your information from these relentless attackers.