Many people are aware of the dangers of online threats when using a personal computer. A good many people though are unaware of the threats that are about that affect smartphones. As a smartphone is almost always connected to the internet, the risks are there 24 hours per day.
The Risks to Smartphones
Many people use their smartphones in every aspect of their lives from online purchases to online banking. They leave themselves wide open to some of the current threats. There is a continual rise in mobile malware where attempts are made to steal your banking details and passwords.
Losing our phones or having them stolen is another way we can lose personal information. Up to 30% of people lose or have their phones stolen each year.
Social Media Risks
This is what most people do on their smartphone, social media is everywhere, and criminals know this. Spam and phishing have made the shift from email and focusing on social media. Offers that are fake are the most common threat facing anyone using social media.
Users receive invitations to join counterfeit events, download apps or some music. If they do this, they are asked to give their account login details or text a premium rate number.
What Can I Do?
There are many options you can do to protect yourself when using your smartphone. Legitimate companies provide some methods, and some are in your own hands.
There are many VPN (virtual private networks) apps available for smartphones. These in simple terms hide your IP address from any prying eyes that try to connect to your phone. Although there are many VPN apps available, they all do much the same thing. However, some are paid for apps whereas some are free, albeit with limited features.
Using a VPN is seamless, and all of your data is encrypted as well as sent through secure tunnels. This is better when you make online purchases or perform online banking. With VPN’s you do get what you pay for, and although free versions may seem tempting, they might not be protecting you as well as you thought.
Many companies now see the risks that are posed to smartphones. A lot of these companies have released dedicated browsers that come with a built-in VPN, or they offer security in other areas. One of the latest offerings is “Firefox Focus.” This new browser has many features built in. Privacy is automatic, so there is nothing you have to configure, and one of the main components is inbuilt “ad blocker.”
Many criminals use underhanded efforts to collect data by using ad trackers. This browser blocks these ads without the chance of your information being stolen.
Another area where hackers can get information is from your browsing history. With this browser, this is erased every time you close the browser app. No longer will you have login passwords or other details stored in your history or cookies.
What Can I do to help?
Both Android and the iPhone have settings that grant or restrict access to all your installed apps. You should go through your installed apps and limit access to apps that you cannot remember granting permission to.
Trusted applications come from the app stores, any apps outside of this should be avoided.
Location tracking options are both used by Android and the iPhone. If you do not have any applications that rely on this, you can disable this in the appropriate settings menus.
On social media, you can set your accounts to have a two-part log-in authentication. This goes a long way to stopping attackers getting into your social media accounts.
Free Public WI-FI
Open Wi-Fi is the most significant threat of all to smartphone users. The networks are open to everyone and give attackers the ideal means of accessing a person’s smartphone. This is the perfect situation where you should use a VPN service. If you use these services, even if it is a free option, you will make it more difficult to gain access to your phone and your private information.
On a final note, we will return to social media. There are many scams and threats, yet users can be the most significant threats to themselves. You should be aware of what you post publicly.
If you are traveling alone and are posting updates of where you are, it is easy for physical attackers to find your location.
Much can be said if you post you are on vacation for two weeks. Apart from all the likes that you will receive, you are also informing unscrupulous people, your house will be empty when you are away.
Keep your private information private; you never know who is watching your every move.