Why Should You Take Smartphone Cybersecurity Seriously?

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Why Should You Take Smartphone Cybersecurity Seriously?

Sameeksha Medewar
Last updated on December 8, 2022

    In this digital era, people heavily rely on smartphones since they have made human lives more convenient than ever before. It is just a matter of installing software, and smartphones allow us to perform various tasks with ease. However, the major concern is the increasing rate of cyberattacks on mobile devices.

    The number of smartphone users is sky-rocketing day by day and so are the cyberattacks. People generally store all their sensitive and confidential information on their mobile phones, from personal data to financial information. As a result, smartphones act as a treasure trove of information for attackers.

    Cybercriminals use multifarious ways to exploit the security vulnerabilities of smartphones and steal information. Many times, they aim to infect your smartphones with malware through a benign app that you download from Google PlayStore or Apple Store. In addition, hackers can even eavesdrop on phone calls and gather personal or business information.

    Another typical reason why cybercriminals target smartphones is that they aim to collect financial data, such as bank details, credit card details, etc. The financial data breach may leave you at a great financial loss.

    Since smartphones are pervasive and users do not take security measures seriously, cybercriminals highly target them to collect confidential and sensitive data.

    Through this blog post, we shall make you aware of some common mobile security threats. Also, we will list different tips and tricks to make your smartphones secure. So, let us begin our discussion!

    Common Mobile Security Threats

    The following are some of the most common mobile security threats that can infect your smartphone and steal data:

    1. Mobile Adware

    Adware is advertising-supported software that displays unwanted advertisements on a computer or mobile device. When you install software from popular categories, such as games and entertainment, there are more chances that your smartphone may get infected with adware. Though these applications may seem harmless while installing, they may behave maliciously or unexpectedly after installation.

    This type of threat may be harmless as well as more dangerous. On the harmless end, you may download an application that may just display advertisements continuously. However, there are many applications, such as ad clickers and ad fraud software, that adversely harm your smartphones.

    Such applications involve downloading executable files secretly and running malicious activities in the background. These malicious activities involve clicking on ads or subscribing to premium services without users knowing.

    2. Unsecured Public WiFi

    Generally, people connect to public WiFi networks wherever available. However, such types of WiFi networks are usually less secure than private WiFi networks. The reason behind the public WiFi networks being less secure is that there is no way to know who sets up the network, if it is secured with encryption, or who is currently monitoring it?

    When you connect your smartphones to public WiFi networks, you leave your smartphone open to various dangers, such as the theft of personal information, man-in-the-middle (MIM) attacks, eavesdropping, malware distribution, and session hijacking. All these threats aim to steal the data stored on your smartphone.

    3. Viruses and Malware

    Along with laptops or desktops, smartphones are also vulnerable to viruses and malware. One of the typical ways for viruses or malware to infect your smartphone is when you install an application embedded with a virus or malware in its source code.

    In addition, an email can also infect your smartphone when you open an attachment with viruses and malware.

    Another trick that attackers use to infect your smartphone with viruses is by sending an SMS. Usually, they send an infected attachment via SMS that aims to steal your personal information.

    4. Social Engineering

    Social engineering is an umbrella term that involves various malicious activities. These activities mostly rely on the communication between the attacker and the victim. Instead of using brute-force attacks to breach personal data, attackers in social engineering motivate users to compromise their smartphone’s security.

    The following is the process that malicious hackers follow to exploit your smartphone’s security vulnerability through a social engineering attack:

    • Initially, they gather all information related to you.
    • They later try to establish a relationship or initiate an interaction to build trust.
    • Once they build trust, they exploit the victim to make the effect of the attack worse.
    • After the hackers take the desired action, they disengage the victim.

    Moreover, attackers may carry out the above process through a single email or social media chat. Even a few pieces of information help attackers gain access to your personal information.

    5. Man-in-the-Middle Attack (MITM)

    As its name suggests, the man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack involves three different parties. The two are the communicating parties, and the third is the attacker. In this type of attack, a hacker intercepts the communication between two parties with the aim to either eavesdrop on or alter the data being transmitted.

    Smartphones are more susceptible to MITM attacks. When you communicate with another person via SMS, hackers can easily eavesdrop on or alter the message you transmit. This is because mobile applications use unencrypted HTTP for transferring sensitive data, which makes it easier for hackers to steal or modify that data.

    6. Phishing Attacks

    Another common threat smartphones are more susceptible to is a phishing attack. It is a kind of social engineering attack that intends to steal your personal information, login credentials, and credit card numbers.

    In this type of attack, attackers masquerade as trusted entities and trick a victim to open an email, text message, or instant message containing a malicious link. Clicking on that link leads to the installation of malware, exposure of sensitive information, or the freezing of a device as a part of the ransomware attack.

    7. Mobile Spyware

    Spyware is one of the fastest-growing mobile threats. It is software installed on a computer or mobile device without the consent of the device owner. In general, this type of threat invades your smartphone, steals personal information and internet usage data, and transmits it to data firms, advertisers, or other external users.

    When spyware gets installed on your smartphone, it keeps track of your internet activity, spy on sensitive information, and tracks login credentials. Primarily, attackers use this type of attack to steal banking information and passwords or credit card numbers.

    Top 7 Effective Ways to Protect Your Smartphone from Security Threats

    All the aforementioned attacks exploit the security vulnerabilities of smartphones and eventually result in the stealing of sensitive or personal data. Therefore, it becomes essential for every individual to protect their smartphones from such security threats.

    The following are some effective tips that will assist you in keeping your smartphone safe and secure from various types of threats:

    1. Use Strong Passwords

    The most common reason why smartphones are susceptible to cyberattacks is poor password habits . Most people use common passwords for their accounts, such as ‘123456’.

    When you use poor or common passwords for your accounts or various applications you use on your smartphone, attackers can easily guess them through brute-force attacks. They try several combinations of usernames and passwords and eventually guess the correct one.

    Make sure to use a long password, a combination of letters, numbers, and special symbols. The ideal length for a password is 12 to 15 characters. Also, make sure you choose a random password having no meaning. You can use password generators to generate a strong password.

    2. Use Antivirus Software

    Antivirus software is a software program that detects, prevents, and removes malware from computing devices. Installing antivirus software on your smartphone can detect, prevent, and remove any kind of malware and protect it from corrupted applications. It automatically runs in the background and provides real-time protection against viruses and malware.

    3. Update your Smartphone Regularly

    Keeping your smartphone updated is one of the best practices that you can follow to keep it protected against cyberattacks. From your smartphone’s operating system to various apps installed on it, all of them serve as a gateway for attackers to compromise your smartphone’s security.

    In general, updates for both the operating system and applications include security enhancements. Therefore, you should regularly check for updates and install them to protect your smartphone from security threats.

    4. Stop Using Public Charging Points

    Though public charging points are convenient while traveling, they are harmful too. Usually, hackers load malware into charging stations at various locations, including malls and airports.

    When you use those malware-loaded charging stations, hackers can easily steal your data. This is because the USB ports that you use for charging can also be used to inject malware and steal sensitive information, and this is referred to as juice jacking.

    5. Install Firewall

    Firewalls can significantly protect your smartphones from unauthorized access. Since you install various third-party apps on your smartphone, some of them make your smartphone vulnerable to potential cyberattacks. When you install a firewall on your device, it prevents hackers from stealing sensitive information stored on your device.

    6. Keep Your Phone Locked

    Another security measure that you should follow is to lock your smartphone with a strong password. So even if you lose your smartphone, thieves will not be able to unlock it and access personal information stored on it. Whatever you like, a pattern, passcode, fingerprint, or face recognition, make sure to always lock your mobile phone.

    7. Be Careful While Downloading

    You need to be careful while downloading any content on your smartphone. Make sure to download content or any application from an official website and check reviews as well. Cybercriminals create applications that mimic the original ones to obtain the user’s information. Therefore, check for the reviews, last update, and contact information of an organization that developed the application.

    Conclusion

    In today's digital age, the protection of personal and sensitive information is critical. Because most people maintain their personal information on their phones which act as pocket-sized computers, it is critical to safeguard these devices from various intrusions. There is a good possibility that your smartphone will not be vulnerable to cyberattacks if you adhere to good security measures.

    By following all the aforementioned security practices, you can navigate your smartphone safely and protect it against cyberattacks.

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