Cell phone security is an ongoing issue as malware and hacking threats are growing by the day. Help protect your cell phone from being hacked by following a few common sense guidelines on this Cyber Security Month, October 2018, in USA Cyber Security Tool Kit and Canada Cyber Security Tool Kit.
Almost every week, it seems like there's a story about security breaches and hacking in the news. As regular consumers, what are we supposed to do to prevent data hacking, especially when it comes to our cell phones? Common-sense measures like a strong password and antivirus software can make a big impact, but there are other solutions worth pursuing as well. In this post, we have outlined what is cell phone hacking, how to tell if your phone is hacked, and how to take preventative measures to ensure cell phone security.
An Intro to Hacking and Malware.
In recent years, smartphone malware has grown nearly 100%, according to an official Nokia report. There're always vulnerabilities that criminals can find and exploit. Most of today's phones don't have built-in security features to prevent it from happening. Valuable personal data can be stolen from smartphones without the owner ever realizing it.
As we use our smartphones for more sensitive tasks, such as online banking and confidential business negotiations, there's more of a need for strong cell phone security. A hacked or stolen phone can quickly be compromised by a criminal, which can result in identity theft, bank account fraud, and many other problems.
Cell phone hacking is a serious problem, and some organizations are working diligently to fight it. For example, the National Cyber Security Alliance has sponsored an annual Data Privacy Day on January 28. This event is designed to raise awareness about digital privacy and share new ways to strengthen security.
Below, we have shared 10 preventative measures that you can take to guard your personal data and keep it out of hackers’ hands.
- Keep Your Operating System Up-to-Date.
First, it is important to update your operating system as soon as a new version is released. Don't wait on these updates, because they often include security bug fixes. Eventually, hackers find a way to exploit every operating system, and the creators have to patch these vulnerabilities with a new update. This is equally true for mobile devices and personal computers.
- Delete the Apps You Don’t Use.
Next, we recommend going through your phone and deleting any apps that you don't plan on using in the future. Every app has the potential to be infected. Often, the apps you don't use are not receiving regular updates in the app store, so they become more vulnerable to hacking attempts. It is easier to just delete the old apps from your cellphone, rather than updating them and never using them. However, if you have enough space on your hard drive to leave every app installed, make sure that "Automatic Downloads" (iOS) or "Auto-update apps" (Android) is turned on.
- Lock Your Phone.
Every phone has an auto-locking security feature with a 4 or 6 digit passcode. Make sure to turn this setting on as soon as you purchase a new phone. If available, use a 6-digit passcode for a higher level of protection. Secondly, most smartphones allow you to set the length of time before auto-locking. Choose the shortest time possible (i.e. one minute). Sometimes, cell phone "hacking" can be as simple as someone stealing your phone and accessing your accounts through normal means. Make sure that every app and account is password-protected.
- Avoid Public WiFi for Sensitive Tasks.
Public WiFi can be a lifesaver when you need to access Internet and don't have cell service, but these networks are not secure. When anyone can access the same WiFi, it is easy for hackers to capture your personal information, such as your passwords or credit card details. If possible, you should turn your smartphone into a wireless hotspot and use that to access the internet for your laptop instead. A subscription-based mobile network is a far more secure network, because people in your area won't be able to access it with a single click. Likewise, you should turn off your phone's Bluetooth functionality when not in use, because it can be compromised as well.
Another way to protect yourself is with a VPN (virtual private network), which encrypts your computer’s details. It can even trick the network to think that you're in another country. We recommend doing this when sharing personal details or valuable documents, so that they don't get into the wrong hands.
- Don’t Click on Questionable Links.
Junk mail and other spam attempts are made all the time. Often, phishing is disguised in such a clever way that even an experienced web surfer accidentally clicks on a compromising link. You may even receive a text message with a link to malware (called “smishing”). Android smartphones are the most susceptible to this issue. To avoid any potential problems, never click on a link from an unidentifiable source.
Even if the source is identifiable such as a reputable brand name, hover your cursor on the link to see the domain of landing URL to ensure it matches the name of that popular brand. Such spammers and phishers have become so sophisticated that they replicate appearance of genuine brand name company emails including their logos and other contact details just to get you to click on the link that can compromise your smart phone.
- Delete Data Remotely to Prevent Theft.
When setting up a new cell phone, make sure to enable the "Android Device Manager" or "Find My iPhone" feature, so that you can track the phone down if it goes missing. These apps also allow you to delete the phone's hard drive remotely, before the thieves can get to it. Meanwhile, if you decide to sell your current phone or purchase a used phone, we recommend resetting the device to factory settings. This will clean out any sensitive material or malware that is still present.
- Be Cautious When Asked to Provide Personal Info.
Every time you sign up for a new service online, you will probably be asked to provide personal details, such as your name and email address. We do this all the time, but it puts us at risk for spam email and texts. Always think twice before giving out information, and use two or three-factor authentication whenever it is an option.
- Avoid Using Unofficial Tools.
There're many unofficial (and legally murky) software tools that promise to "jailbreak" or "root" your phone, so you can use it with other cell networks. This opens your device to potential security threats. You should be extremely cautious if you decide to use these tools, because some of them can lead to spyware and identity theft. Laws have been put in place to make it easier to officially unlock your phone - Contact your cellular service carrier for details.
- Be Careful About Granting Permissions.
By law, smartphone apps must ask for permission to access your personal data and various phone functions, such as the camera or microphone. Often, an app will need access to work properly, but some apps abuse these permissions. For instance, the Google Play Store has a less rigorous vetting process for accepting new apps. Bad actors can take advantage of these vulnerabilities and create an app that steals your personal data.
Think twice before granting permission to an app developer you don't completely trust. If an application asks unreasonable amount of access, contact the developer to question that so they know why their app may not fare well if they continue such tactics. If no luck, think how important it is to install it in terms of benefits versus possible risks of installing it. Based on these criterias, you will most likely make the right decision.
- Avoid Auto-Login Features.
Finally, we recommend turning off your phone's auto-login features, so that it is harder for bad actors to access your accounts. Auto-login can be extremely useful when you don't want to remember or type passwords, but you shouldn't use it for sensitive apps like online banking and email. If a thief somehow figured out your phone's password, they would be able to open any app without signing in. To keep this from happening, you can also enable the setting that erases your phone's contents after 10 failed login attempts. And if you must use an auto-login feature, do it with a secure password manager app that requires a separate password to function.
- Bonus: Use Reputable Antivirus Software.
While iOS on iPhones is intrinsically safer even without an antivirus software, we do recommend it for Android phones and devices such as Android tablet computers. Why are iPhones more safe than Android operating system phones? Apple designs the phone software as well as the phone hardware which forms a tighter bond preventing gaps for 3rd parties to penetrate. Anyway, if you have an Android, choose to use antivirus software for Androids to get overlapping protection from unauthorized intrusions. However, please be sure to install only reputable branded ones such as Avast, Bitdefender, McAfee, Norton and Kaspersky, among very few others. Do antivirus softwares interfere with cell phone reception? They do not - as long as you install safety rated top antivirus softwares suggested above. Otherwise, an unknown brand (usually free) antivirus can pose as antivirus tool but can itself be a malware in reality with potential to curb cellular reception power so you cannot communicate and get help using your phone after your device gets infected.
Try one or all of the suggestions above to stay safe online with your smartphone secured from unwanted elements that can damage your phone, and more importantly - steal your personal information or make it inaccessible. At SignalBooster.com, we also want to ensure that you are able to enjoy fast and secure cell phone coverage at your home or office. Try our risk-free boosters today, with a 60-day money-back guarantee and no monthly contracts. We also offer free shipping to 48 contiguous states on all orders over $100.
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