As more and more people use their mobile devices for data storage and business transactions, smartphones are fast becoming a prime target of cybercriminals. We recommend taking the steps outlined here to protect yourself and your phone against data thieves.
Guarding against bad apps
Many cyber crooks attempt to trick victims into downloading apps that infect their phones with viruses and malware. To help ensure that you don’t download a malicious app:
Check the app’s rating and comments from previous users before you download it. If an app doesn’t have a great rating, there’s probably a substitute that does. And don’t forget to review comments from previous downloaders; if there are only a few comments and they’re all extremely positive, it’s best to be wary.
Check the information the app requires. Before you buy or download an app, you’ll be informed about the kind of information the app needs to function properly. This is where common sense comes into play. If you’re downloading a game of Scrabble, for example, and the app asks to view your contacts, it may not be wise to continue. Read the permissions carefully to ensure that nothing in the document raises a red flag.
Check out the app developer’s website. This can be a good indication of quality and security. If the developer is legitimate, it most likely will have a professional-looking website.
Beefing up your phone’s protection
Mobile phone companies are fighting cybercriminals by creating new security updates and applications. Be sure to:
1. Keep current. Don’t wait to install security updates or patches that your phone company provides.
2. Set up a screen-lock passcode. Almost all smartphones let you lock the screen after a certain amount of time or, if you prefer, every time the phone turns off or goes to sleep. It may take you a few seconds to type in a passcode, but this is a key security feature if the phone is ever lost or stolen.
3. Look for a mobile security app. Would you leave your computer unencrypted or without an antivirus tool to protect it? Of course not. So be sure to take the same precautions with your smartphone. Many companies package these security features together in a mobile security app.
Getting wise to smishing and vishing
Smishing and vishing are fraudulent schemes carried out via cell phone. Smishing attacks attempt to collect your personal financial information through SMS texts sent to your phone, while vishing scams use prerecorded messages asking victims to respond with their sensitive information. To stay safe:
Never respond to suspicious, unsolicited e-mails, texts, phone calls, or voicemails that request personal information. If you are unsure of the validity of the message or call, go to the company’s website directly.
Do not click on any link or attachment within a suspicious text or e-mail message.
Do not respond to text messages or automated voice messages from unknown or blocked numbers on your mobile phone.
Don’t download anything unless you trust the source.
Delete text messages and voicemails from “5000.” Many smishing and vishing attempts come from this number, indicating that the message was sent from an e-mail address rather than another cell phone.
A smart future
With smartphone use on the rise, it’s increasingly important to be proactive in thwarting mobile-based cyber attacks. If you have any questions about the information presented here, please don’t hesitate to contact us.