Your mobile phone makes identity theft so simple, it’s criminal

 In Security

Did you know your smartphone could be hacked without your knowledge?

It’s amazing how reliant we are on our mobile phones. Making phone calls is almost a secondary feature of the technology these days. You’re more likely to use your mobile to do your banking, read the news, check in on social media, send an email … the list is endless.

They are an essential part of modern life, but you mustn’t forget that you’re basically carrying the skeleton key to all your personal data and accounts in your pocket or purse, 24/7. It’s for this reason that hackers target them and why you should make sure you’re protecting yourself from this risk.

Here’s how it happens

There are three main ways that your phone can be used against you by hackers.

Number one, your passwords can be harvested when connecting to open public wireless networks. See my article here to read more about this.

Number two, hackers can gain access to your phone via operating system flaws. There are new problems publicity disclosed by smartphone manufacturers almost daily and 10 percent of those are serious vulnerabilities that could allow someone remotely to gain access to your device and control it. To protect yourself, install newly released updates immediately.

Lastly, you can inadvertently install malicious code when installing apps. It’s so easy to add new apps to smartphones but this also increases the risk of hidden, malicious code being installed. There are so many apps now that it is impossible for Google and Apple look through every single one and determine if it is malicious not. Installing apps outside the app stores is even riskier as there is no vetting being done by the manufacturers.

Here’s how to stop it

So how do you protect your phone?

Firstly, phone antivirus software is a waste of time and is not necessary. Protecting your smart phone is straightforward if you follow these simple rules:

  • Don’t connect to open wireless networks. If you do, use a VPN.
  • Install updates as soon as they are available.
  • Only install apps from the app store and even then be careful about what you install. Carefully review what the app needs access to and, if it’s too much, maybe you can live without it.
  • Just like on your computer, be careful about which websites you visit.
  • Set up secure passwords to all your accounts linked to your phone.
  • Set up a screen lock for your phone.
  • Visit this government page which has lots of useful information.

There are no guarantees, only risk mitigation

Bottom line, there is no guaranteed way of keeping your phone secure. Lots of people find themselves with hacked phones every day. Fortunately, in our client base, I’m not seeing this happen too often. However, I do expect this to change as hackers go after phones which are easy targets. By following some simple security rules you can drastically reduce your chance of getting into trouble.

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