Smartphone security is getting a lot more attention. Many smartphone owners are beginning to understand that their mobile devices are just as susceptible to cybersecurity threats as computers are. Since there have been a lot of high-profile hacks in the past few years, news warning internet users of the potential security threats related to smartphone use has quickly been spreading.
There are many who still aren’t aware of the defenses available to them while hackers are constantly testing new methods of gaining access to sensitive information. While you should remain vigilant regarding new threats to your smartphones, here are some of the biggest smartphone security threats we know about in 2016.
Just like on computers, malware is a common threat smartphone users should be aware of. It most commonly comes from downloading suspect files or clicking on unfamiliar hyperlinks. Sometimes malicious hyperlinks can even be found in emails from seemingly trustworthy senders.
Keep in mind that some of your contacts could get hacked and send out spam. Hackers could also send out emails or messages that appear strikingly similar to ones from familiar contacts. Luckily, malware is rather easy to avoid. Start by installing a security app on your mobile devices so threats will be detected automatically. You will also want to make sure to schedule a scan at least once a week.
Due to the popularity of third-party apps, hackers sometimes use them as a way to access your personal information or inject your phone with malware. Though the app stores try to filter out the junk as best as they can, sometimes a piece of malware can slip through the cracks and become available for download.
It’s always important to read the reviews and user permissions for an app before downloading it. A reviewer might have left important information already. Alternatively, you may be able to do quick web search to check for any controversy surrounding the app.
You also need to carefully consider what permissions you’d be allowing an app to have. If an app is asking for camera access without an obvious need for it, it may be wise to avoid downloading it.
Since internet-enabled mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are constantly connecting to unsecured internet connections, it’s important to realize that hackers can use that to their advantage.
While you’re using public WiFi, it is possible for someone within range of the network access your communications and scan them for personal information or login details. Your smartphone has no special defense against such an attack. All it takes is one unlucky network to lead to identity theft.
The best way to avoid this from happening is to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app on your smartphone. A VPN is a service that will allow you to encrypt your internet connection on any network as well as let you mask your IP address via a remote server.
This allows you to travel with your smartphone wherever you want without having to worry about hackers using your internet connection as a window into your online activities. It will also allow you to avoid most forms of location tracking. If you’d like to read more about what VPNs can do, Secure Thoughts has a great VPN review with a lot of helpful details.
If you’ve been an internet user for a long time, chances are you’ve seen email phishing attempts. Yet now there’s a whole new threat to worry about on your smartphone: SMS phishing.
SMS phishing tends to present itself as a text message with a malicious hyperlink in it. The hyperlinks might lead to a seemingly legitimate website in order to persuade you into entering your sensitive information or trick you into downloading malware.
Sometimes these sorts of text messages can appear to be from a business that you’ve recently purchased goods from. It can also seem to be from a familiar contact or company. Here is an example of what the text message might look like:
Notice that the sender of this text message is attempting to trick recipients into believing this is a message from a well-known bank, Wells Fargo. Yet if you pay close attention to the text, this message is actually quite suspicious.
The word “security” is not capitalized as the rest of the words are and the website URL is definitely not the Wells Fargo site (a well-known company would never add numbers after their URL unless the company’s name already includes them). It is also suspicious that the URL ends in .net instead of .com.
Ultimately, paying close attention to the subtle details in a text message is the only strategy that can help you avoid SMS phishing.
Common Internet Security Mistakes
Another one of the biggest smartphone security threats of 2016 is people making common internet security mistakes such as using weak passwords or not logging out of your accounts when you’re done using them.
It would be wise for every internet user (even those who don’t own a smartphone) to learn more about internet security in order to protect themselves, but start off by checking your passwords to ensure that they’re strong. To create strong passwords, be sure to avoid using any personal information or dictionary words as your password. Always include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols (if possible).
You will also need to make sure that you are making yourself aware of some of the common scams and tactics hackers use to trick the average user. Similarly, you should look up how to know when malware could be the cause of a problem on your device you use.
Got any good smartphone tips or tricks? We’d love to hear other ideas as well. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.