Cyber Crime Has Gone Mobile: 7 Rules to Protect Your Phone

September 6th, 2018 by admin

Man using a mobile phone in front of a cellular tower

It's hard to remember a world before smart phones. They are not only a means of communication, but our alarm clocks, calendars, flashlights, banks, and so much more. Not surprisingly, hackers have picked up on the trend; cyber crime has gone mobile. Over 60% of online fraud is done through mobile platforms (Source: RSA). If you've got a smart phone, here are some steps you can take to stay protected. 

1. Password Protect Your Phone

The importance of a good password is crucial. It is common sense to protect your email, social media, and bank accounts with a password, so it's no surprise that you should have a solid passcode on your phone—where all of those accounts are easily accessible, Avoid simple passwords like 1234, 0000, or keypad patterns. A 6-digit password is almost impossible for a hacker to crack with brute force. As with all passwords, change your phones often. It's good to stick to a schedule for changing all your passwords for maximum protection. Biometric authentication (fingerprint scanners and facial recognition) is a popular option as well. These forms of authentication are reliable and can't be tricked too easily. But, if you're worried about someone finding a way in with forged biometrics, disable the feature and opt for a 6-digit password. Check out our blog post for more information on setting safe, memorable passwords.

2. Keep Your Patches Up To Date

It's important to keep your phone's software updated; by staying up to date on your patching, you can stay protected against the latest threats. Unlike your computer that seems to pester you daily to update your software (to which you likely repeatedly click “Not now”…), your phone may not be as persistent. Check your settings often to see if a software update is available.

3. Download Apps Wisely

To keep your phone protected from malicious software, avoid downloading apps from any 3rd party app store, meaning use the Apple App Store and Google Play Exclusively (Apple devices can only download from the App Store to begin with, unless your device is jailbroken, which can come with its own set of problems). These main stores are more likely to vet their apps to ensure they are safe. However, it's still a good idea to stick to mainstream apps with high ratings (especially with Google Play, which seems to screen their apps less fastidiously than The App Store). Be sure to download apps straight from the app stores to avoid imposter pages. Limit app permissions to what is really needed. Some apps will track your location or other data when that information may have nothing to do with the services the app provides. You can check these settings and exercise control over your permissions in your privacy or app settings.

4. Turn Off Auto-Complete

As handy as it can be for your phone to autocomplete your personal information, passwords, and even bank information, it can be dangerous if your phone ever gets into the wrong hands. Protect your sensitive information in a protected app, or better yet, don't store that information in your phone at all.

5. Avoid Unsecured Public Wi-Fi

Connecting to unsecured networks, such as those found at your local coffee shop or airport puts you at risk of your information being intercepted by a hacker. It's best to avoid such networks, but you can minimize the risk by taking the precautions found in our blog post.

6. Don't Open Suspicious Emails

Smartphone users are susceptible to the same phishing schemes that desktop users may face. Never click those links, whether on your computer or on your phone.

7. Have a Plan if Your Phone Gets Lost or Stolen

If you are an iPhone user, make sure you're connected to the “Find My iPhone” app; you'll not only be able to locate your phone, you'll also be able to turn on Lost Mode. This mode will allow you to remotely lock your device with a passcode (which could be your saving grace if you failed to follow tip #1), display a custom message on the lock screen, and suspend Apple Pay accounts.  You can also completely erase the device remotely. Similarly, you can remotely secure your android phone through your Google Account.

- Hannah Webb

Posted in: Protection, Security, Tech Tips, News, Technology