If you are wondering if your phone is a target for online security threats, then I am here to answer your burning question! Yes, yes it is.
This is quite a scary thought when you think about it. How much personal or work related data do you have on your phone? Do you have anything that you wouldn’t want to get lost or stolen? If your answer was yes, then you are definitely not alone. There are many people (Myself included) that store potentially sensitive information on their phones. Imagine when someone takes your device and has full access to all your social media, emails and contacts, not a very cool thought to have.
Luckily, there are ways to help yourself fend off these potential threats and I will quickly run you through 5 of the easiest and effective methods. Strap yourselves in ninjas let’s secure our mobile devices!
#5 – Up, up and a…date
It is annoying when your phone pops up with one of those push notifications telling you to update your device. It isn’t only the operating system that does this, but countless apps at a time. The only real difference is the frequency in which the updates need to occur for each of these applications. Although, they could potentially annoy you, it is critical for you to allow these applications to update. Why? Most of the time they add extra cool features and bug fixes, but every now-and-then you will receive security updates.
The security updates are usually bound to device updates, but they aren’t limited to only the operating system or device. There are people working around the clock to figure out how to breach certain applications and devices, but luckily, there are people that finds the gaps in the system and patches it up for us. So for this reason, it is incredibly important to keep your applications and device up-to-date with the latest patch releases.
#4 – You shall not pass
People often look over the importance of having a password on their mobile devices. Have you ever left your phone somewhere, just to quickly step away? I’ve seen a lot of people leaving or in actual fact temporarily forgetting their phone on a desk. The time it takes for the person to realize is usually short, but what could someone take from your phone before you get back to it? You might not have any files, photos, messages or any other things you would perceive as valuable, but with smart phones in the state that they are they usually hook up to many social applications without asking you for a password time-and-time again. Addresses, email addresses, contact numbers and who knows what else might be exposed and utilized without you knowing it.
The quick solution? Create a password, a good one. Make it something that isn’t obvious or easily guessed. This way when someone does grab your phone they have the immediate headache of trying to break through a password. I would also suggest to use different passwords across your different applications and use a password manager to keep track of your passwords. This provides a solid first line of defense for those with, let’s say, sticky fingers.
#3 – How do I open this?
Let us take a theoretical trip where someone gets a hold of your phone, in a more permanent manner. Like for instance it was stolen, it’s gone, you forgot it and when you come back it vanished like mist before the sun. Let’s also add the layer that you had sensitive data on the phone, which you wouldn’t want to get out to the world. I’m pretty sure that a lot of us can relate on some level to a scenario like this. So how do you protect your data when it’s not in your possession?
Most phones these days have the capability to encrypt your data. Some phones even do it as a default with minimal interference with the phone’s performance in any way. When you encrypt your data it means that someone that tries to get a hold of your data is going to have an extremely hard time to open up anything that is saved on there. It takes a borderline prodigy to break through encryption, but there is always the off chance of it happening. Enabling this feature adds a major buffer to your security and will deter 90% of people trying to grab data from your phone for their nefarious purposes.
#2 – Sorry, not sorry, bye.
Right, so let’s continue with the scenario, you have updated applications which forced the attacker to have to physically take your phone. The attacker went into the wilds and broke through your password and now wants to get to the juicy data. The attacker pulls out his hair in frustration as he tries to decrypt the data on the phone. So what do you do to put the final nail in the coffin?
You remote wipe all of your data of course! This leaves the the attacker with no options, but to sell the device itself. How can you do this? Well, it’s quite easy to this these days. Actually if you do a quick search on the model of your phone you would probably find that the phone has the feature built in. The other way to do this should your phone not have this feature is to use cloud services such as iCloud and Google sync, they provide this as well. In four relatively easy steps you have already become a huge pain in the gluteus maximus of anyone trying to get frisky with your information. They struggle to get in with software due to updates, they struggle to unlock the phone, they, in all probability can’t see your data and before they crack the encryption you wipe it all.
#1 – Is this the right place?
This step focuses more on the potential risk you pose to yourself when moving around in the world. We are surrounded by wonderful WiFi connections everywhere, open to the public and if your phone is set to utilize every open network then it could potentially connect to many, many open networks for internet purposes. The thing about these connections are that they aren’t secure. Any person that wants to do damage could utilize the networks to attack devices, or worse yet, they could set-up their own open networks to try and grab as much information from your phone while you are passing through the network range.
I’m not suggesting that you should turn your WiFi off completely forever. Set your phone up to only connect to a network when you want to connect to a network and never do any transactions that contain sensitive data, such as card numbers or account numbers over an unsecured network connection. You never know who lurks on the other side.
With that, I’m going to rest on the subject, for now. There are still a lot of things you can do to secure your device, some of which are more technical, but I will get to that in another article. Thank you for reading, liking and commenting and as always have fun and in this case, stay safe out there!