Mobile devices/Smartphones have become ubiquitous – everyone’s got one!. Many of us have them in hand or within reach, 24 hours a day. According to survey results published by Reviews.org in April 2021, Americans check their phones 262 times per day—that’s every 5.5 minutes. In February, a Statista survey found that nearly half of all respondents admitted spending five to six hours a day on their phones—and that’s a self-reported total, so the number is probably even higher.
However, no one thinks about cybersecurity protection for smartphones nearly as much as we do cybersecurity protection for laptops, desktops, networks, and other devices. Yet, most people use their smartphones to stay in touch with family, shop 24/7, and share personal information—along with monitoring our medical records, tracking our finances, and sharing our real-time locations.
Needless to say, hackers and cybercriminals have targeted mobile devices to steal valuable data and private information. Recently, the rise of this type of activity has increased significantly and phone Apps are being used by criminals to gain information. There are many new varieties of misuses including spearphishing and even a hidden screen recording scheme that steals data when mobile phone users enter their login name and password into bank accounts.
How do you prevent such activity and make your smartphone safer?
1. Update your apps! I bet you don’t give that much thought. Well, the truth is most apps on the iOS and Android platforms update automatically with critical security patches. The problem is that some apps require special permissions to download, or will only download when your phone is fully charged and connected to Wi-Fi. That makes it easy to put off an update or forget to do it, but the truth is - this is the most important step for mobile device security. Hackers are always devising new tricks and they know that apps on smartphones are often overlooked and are easy targets. Just remember that all it takes is a couple of days of neglecting to install an update to put the private information you store on your smartphone at risk.
2. Only install apps from verified sources. Updating existing apps on your phone is one thing—making sure all your new app downloads come from official Android, Google Play, or Apple App Stores is equally important. These stores require developers to meet certain standards before an app can be offered on its storefront, and any unreliable apps are usually reviewed and removed quickly. Be careful because some of you can get redirected to the wrong apps so pay attention to an app developer’s name and read reviews of apps before you download. Be sceptical, look for shoddy misspellings or subtly suspicious links.
3. Turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA).MFA adds one more step when you log onto sensitive areas by requiring you to enter a one-time text code delivered directly to your phone at the time of login. In this way, a hacker cannot just gain your credentials to get into your accounts. Does it work you ask – YES! it’s definitely worth the extra effort to protect yourself. Make sure this setting is activated under your Settings > Password & Security menu—it could be a lifesaver if your smartphone is infected with malware. Not sure about deploying MFA or SSO? A trusted IT provider can help.
4. Review each app’s privacy settings. Every new app asks for permission to access other parts of your phone like the camera, microphone, or location services. But just don’t click “Allow at all times” because it’s easy—even a safely installed, a trustworthy app might want access to sensitive areas of your phone. If you aren’t sure about specific app permissions, navigate to your phone’s privacy settings and manually review the settings for each app. We recommend providing the least amount of permissions to apps concerning your privacy.
5. Delete old or unused apps from your device. It’s easy to let an old app remain in our menus. But never logging in and never bothering to remove it can have serious consequences, offering hackers access to your device if the app has been discontinued or removed from extended support. There is a couple of advantages of deleting old apps including being able to free up your phone’s memory and strengthening your overall security.
6. Be wary of public Wi-Fi connections. You need to be extra careful when using public Wi-fi. Any unsecured Wi-Fi access can put sensitive information on your phone at risk—particularly if you log in to banking apps, check your email, or shop online. If you have cell phone service and need to connect to the Internet, stick with your carrier’s network or set up a personal hotspot with a unique password. VPNs (virtual private networks) can also provide an extra layer of security.
It’s a fact of life that smartphones are critical to everyone’s day-to-day lives. And that’s OK—but if you run a business, we recommend highly that you consider your and your staff mobile devices because your security strategy is only as good as the weakest link. If you would like to know more about how to protect mobile devices in your business call EDM Automation to learn more.
Smartphones are deserving of the same multi-layered protection as laptops, desktops, networks, and hard drives. We’ve worked with many businesses to balance work with telecommuting - empowering you and your employees to work anytime, anywhere while protecting every device.