How secure is your phone?

May 16, 2018

Data protection and security important information in your mobile phone, Woman hand using smartphone and icon key on shield

When it comes to personal computers, people seem to understand the security risks involved fairly well. Most people have some sort of anti-virus or -malware software on their computers and understand connecting your computer to a free Wi-Fi network can be risky. But people don’t seem to have that same sense of danger when it comes to their cellphones. According to a recent McAfee Consumer Electronics Show (CES) survey, 52% of respondents are either unsure of or have no idea how to check if their mobile devices and apps are secure against cyberthreats. McAfee Labs detected over 16 million mobile malware infestations just in the third quarter of 2017.


Here are some of the latest threats to your phone:

  • Spyware: There are a number of apps that can be downloaded to your phone that allow someone to monitor your cellphone use. With these apps, like Mobile Spy, criminals can secretly spy on your phone, including your texts, emails, passwords, location, and more. They can even control your cellphone’s camera.
  • Geolocation: Many apps such as Uber, Facebook and Google Maps ask to allow tracking of your location even when you’re not using the app. And while this may inconsequential for apps you trust (although you should set your location services to turn on only when using the app), hackers can exploit this to track your location and your habits.
  • Fake Apps: Android phones are especially being targeted with fake apps that closely mimic real apps. These fake apps are actually malware that users unknowingly download onto their phones.
  • Unsecure Wi-Fi: Free Wi-Fi networks are usually unsecure, which means that if you connect your phone to your local coffee shop’s network, you could be opening yourself up to attack without even realizing it.
  • Spoofing: This is where hackers set up free Wi-Fi networks in close proximity to high-traffic spots like hotels and coffee shops.
  • Email phishing attacks: People may be able to better identify a fake email on a computer rather than on a cellphone. They may not have focused attention to what they’re doing or they may not recognize the threat on the smaller screen.


How to protect yourself

First of all, every cellphone should have antivirus software installed on it. The good news is some of the best antivirus software is free. Check out McAfee, Lookout, or MobiShield.


Second, make sure you update your phone and your apps on a regular basis. These updates are often issued specifically because of new security threats.


Use free Wi-Fi sparingly on your mobile device. Furthermore, never use it to access confidential or personal services, like banking or credit card information. Keep in mind spoof networks and if you are going to use a free Wi-Fi network, make sure you’re using the official one provided by the place of business. There’s usually a sign visible telling you the name of their network.


To avoid phishing scams, never click on unfamiliar email links. To avoid having someone put spyware onto your phone, make sure you have a secure password.


Being aware that your phone is vulnerable is key. While people have become accustomed to the threats that exist for laptops and desktops, it has taken a while for people to understand that their phones are in danger too.


Pay attention to when and where you use your phone. Also, make sure your phone is acting properly. You use your phone all the time, so you should have an innate sense of when something seems wrong. If you aren’t sure, take your phone to a store to have it checked.


For more information about security, contact Vanguard Resources.