The total number of smartphone users worldwide will reach 3.5 billion this year, that’s over 40 percent of the global population. Primarily used to facilitate communication and provide a connection to friends and family, the smartphone has grown to become an indispensable tool in our day-to-day. We use these versatile handheld devices in virtually every aspect of our lives whether it’s shopping, business, education, entertainment, or surfing the internet.
With so many smartphones in so many hands now, cybercriminals are having a field day with user data. The ubiquity of mobile devices and their relatively lax cybersecurity has made them an attractive target for hackers. Appearing in more people’s pockets, briefcases, and purses by the day, today’s smartphones come with advanced capabilities, like those of a PC. Your smartphone can do almost anything your computer can do.
Common Mobile Security Threats
Increased functionality means more user data is accessible via mobile devices, further escalating the risk of a cyber attack. Unfortunately, smartphones don’t receive security updates as frequently as PCs. Additionally, technical cybersecurity measures such as encryption, antivirus, and firewall are not as common on mobile devices. That’s why smartphones are becoming more and more attractive targets for cybercriminals. Here are the three most common mobile security risks users face.
One of the biggest mobile security threats users face is malicious apps. Both Android and iOS, the two largest mobile platforms, have their own weaknesses when it comes to application security. Faulty or malicious apps are continuously sneaking through screening, posing a huge security threat for users in the form of malware and spam.
Public Wi-Fi Connections
The problem with public Wi-Fi connections is that they are often unsecured. There’s a tremendous number of cybersecurity risks that go along with unsecured Wi-Fi connections. For instance, anyone with technical know-how can easily intercept your internet traffic when connected to a public Wi-Fi network.
Smartphones allow users access to email on the go. With a smartphone, you can monitor your email in real-time. But an email inbox on your mobile device also poses a security threat. Hackers can use a social engineering con via phone call or email to gain access to sensitive data through deception. These devices are always powered on hence a major frontier when it comes to phishing attacks.
How to Protect Your Mobile Device
Public Wi-Fi connections are one of the biggest mobile security threats users face. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the most effective tools when it comes to defending against online threats and is essential to ensure mobile security. The app hides your true IP and encrypts your web traffic, and is one of the best ways to secure your mobile devices when connected to untrustworthy public Wi-Fi networks.
As stated earlier in the article, mobile devices lack technical cybersecurity measures such as antivirus protection. Just like computers, smartphones need around-the-clock defence against malware and other online cybersecurity threats. Antivirus programs can detect and remove malicious programs, viruses, trojans, worms, spyware, adware, rootkits, etc. Antivirus software can scan downloads and block files that contain malware.
Update Your Apps Regularly
The cybersecurity threat landscape is constantly evolving. Hackers are always coming up with new ways to compromise your device. One way to keep cybercriminals out of your smartphone is by updating your system regularly. Ensure that your antivirus, social media apps, and operating system are running the latest software versions as they have all the necessary security patches. In addition to making your mobile device more secure, keeping your system up to date also improves performance.
Use Strong Passwords
It goes without saying that having a strong password game is the easiest way to protect sensitive data on your smartphone from cybercriminals. Using strong passwords will make it harder for hackers to break into your mobile device. Also, make sure that you use a unique password for each of your online accounts or social media apps. Using unique passwords means that even if someone cracks one of your passwords, they won’t have access to all your apps.
People lose their smartphones all the time. Lost mobile devices often end up in the hands of hackers who may try to harvest the data stored in them. Encryption makes the data stored in your device unreadable, protecting it from hackers. Encryption software takes readable data and alters it so that it appears random. All recent smartphones come with an encryption feature built-in, all you have to do is enable it in the settings.
Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets give users access to the internet, email, GPS navigation, etc. and people often store sensitive data on them. Mobile security threats have increased dramatically as a result. Unfortunately, mobile security has not kept up with traditional computer security, falling behind in a broad range of cybersecurity areas. It’s up to the user to take the necessary security precautions to ensure protection against the aforementioned mobile security threats.