With smartphone penetration at an all-time high, the biggest cybersecurity risks for most people stems from their smartphones. Smartphones pose unique risks because they have the same computing capacity to PCs, but they have added functionalities like portability and enormous data on the user. With a normal computer, the data that can be stolen can be limited to browsing history, saved documents and any other primary functions performed on a computer. A smartphone can provide very personal data like call logs, messages, health data and photos. Also, many smartphone users take security for granted because any malware, viruses or other harmful software are not apparent.
Common cybersecurity risks with smartphone usage:
Phishing: since smartphone users are using their devices virtually non-stop, they are some of the most susceptible victims to phishing. Phishing via smartphones can take several forms: it can be via phone call, email, text, etc. Since smartphones have smaller screens than computers, it can be hard to notice any discrepancies in an email address. This phishing can lead to tricking users into giving out their personal information.
Spy software: Spy software, also known as spyware, is one of the biggest risks associated with smartphones. Spyware consists of unethical software practices where hackers can monitor the activities of smartphone users. It’s an advanced form of eavesdropping where emails, phone calls, text messages and any other form of communication on smartphones are monitored and intercepted. Spy software is generally more present in android phones in comparison to Apple phones.
Unsecured WiFi: Unsecured WiFi is one of the most exploited loopholes for smartphone users. Most users who connect to an unsecured WiFi network dismiss the cybersecurity risks. Using unsecured WiFi is dangerous because it can lead to the interception of login credentials, spreading of harmful software and the theft of data. It’s much safer to use your phone’s network or wait to use a trusted WiFi connection instead of opting for unsecured WiFi.
How can you protect yourself?
Account for security when selecting a smartphone: Most smartphone users either have an Apple or Android phone. It’s important to choose a provider with a good track record of user security. Many people who have android phones overlook the danger that comes with some providers. For example, Huawei, a major android phone provider, has been exposed as a national security threat for American consumers by the U.S. government.
Limit the internet exposure of your phone number: Many times when signing up for different platforms, services or apps online, a company requests your phone number to send alerts and promotional information. It’s very important to avoid inputting your phone number, especially on sketchy websites, because that can lead to unsolicited robocalls, phishing attempts and other malicious attacks. You should have only a handful of trusted providers (hospital, schools, etc.)have access to your phone number.
Be wary of the apps installed on your phone: One of the biggest risks for smartphone users stems from using apps that have necessary access to user data. For example, a game installed on a smartphone should not be able to have access to your contacts, call logs, location, etc. The game might claim to need this information to enhance in-app experiences, but this is very dangerous to give this type of access. Simple acts like taking a quick skim on an app’s reviews or description can prevent you from downloading a malicious, spyful app.
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