The rapidly changing of technology and portability of mobile devices, have forced people to heavily rely on these products. With these increased functionalities, mobile devices carry out several our day-to-day activities, like: surfing the web, booking appointments, setting up reminders, sharing files, instant messaging, video calling, and mobile banking.
Given all these applications, mobile devices are vulnerable to online threats and are also susceptible to physical attacks due to their portability. Some of the security threats include malware specifically designed for mobile devices: worms, spyware, unauthorized access, phishing, and theft.
Here are some steps that will help you minimize the exposure of your mobile device to digital threats.
USE STRONG PASSWORDS
Strong passwords coupled with biometric features, such as fingerprint authenticators, make unauthorized access nearly impossible. Your passwords should be eight or more characters long and contain alphanumeric characters. If your mobile device allows two-factor authentication, don’t hesitate to use it. You don’t want to be subject to unforeseen attacks.
Add a passcode, PIN, or pattern lock. This helps protect your data from an attacker who gets ahold of your phone, even if the app developer didn’t properly secure the data.
Use different passwords for sites and apps. If you use the same passwords for banking, social media, email, etc., then a hacker only needs to figure out one password to gain access to your identity.
You can choose when you want to change your password, but don’t forget to change your password at least every 90 days, three months …
ENSURE PUBLIC OR FREE WI-FI IS PROTECTED
Everybody loves free Wi-Fi, but free could turn expensive in a very devastating manner. That’s because most of the free Wi-Fi points are not encrypted. These open networks allow malicious people to eavesdrop on the network traffic and easily get your passwords, usernames and other sensitive information. This is a constant threat.
To protect against Wi-Fi hacking, use applications that secure your connection or at least tell you the status of the Wi-Fi to which you are connected.
Use two-factor user identification when available to add another level of protection. Many applications offer two-factor authentication, which combines something you have (phone) with something you know passcode. It greatly increases the difficulty of an attacker compromising your password and gaining access to your account.
You may also turn off wireless connectivity when you are not using them. Not only will this help avoid automatic connection to unencrypted networks but also save your battery.
ENCRYPT YOUR DEVICE
Know how your data is being used by applications. Low data security is a common problem today. When your device and apps send data without protecting it with encryption, the data can be easily intercepted. Most mobile devices are bundled with a built-in encryption feature. Encryption is the process of making data unreadable. Decryption is converting the unreadable data into normal data This is important in case of theft, and it prevents unauthorized access. You simply need to locate this feature on your mobile device and enter a password to encrypt your device.
This process may take time depending on the size of your data. The bigger the data, the more time it will take. Most importantly, you need to remember the encryption password because it’s required every time you want to use your mobile device.
Also, as a fail-safe, consider backing up your data since some mobile devices will automatically erase everything if the wrong encryption password is entered incorrectly after a few times.
INSTALL AN ANTIVIRUS APPLICATION
The files you download and the apps you install on your mobile device might be packed with malicious code. Once launched, this code could send your data to hackers, thereby making you unsecured and robbing you of your privacy. To avoid that, installing a reputable antivirus application will guarantee your security.
Some antivirus applications also offer more functionalities, such as erasing your data if you lose your mobile device, tracking and blocking unknown callers who might be a threat and telling you which applications are not safe.
In addition, they offer to clear your browsing history and delete cookies. Cookies are small software tokens that store your login information that might be leaked if someone malicious gets to them.
UPDATE TO THE LATEST SOFTWARE
Your mobile device firmware might also be vulnerable to security threats. New loopholes might be exploited leaving your device open to threats, to avoid that, always update your firmware/device. Major mobile device firmware companies, such as Google Android and Apples iOS, roll out new updates from time to time. Most of those updates include patches to known security vulnerabilities. Attackers can exploit these vulnerabilities if you do not upgrade your OS.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Avoid turning on autofill: Some websites and applications will automatically fill in your username when you visit them. This is due to the autofill feature. Turn it off as soon as possible.
- Log out: After using mobile applications, especially those that are linked to one another, such as google applications, ensure that you log off each time you are done using them.
- Only download apps from the official App Store and Google Play. Third-party stores are filled with malware. Stick to the official stores to protect yourself from malicious apps.
- Know what data is being collected by applications. Some apps may be able to access your phone and email contacts, call logs, internet data, calendar data, data about the device’s location, and unique IDs, and information about how you use the app itself.
Making your mobile device secure is not an easy task, but it should be your priority. As there are new vulnerabilities found every day, it’s important to make sure that you are aware of any suspicious activity that occurs on your device. Nowadays, your phone is your life … protect your phone.