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It’s time to take smartphone cybersecurity seriously


Cyber Security

It’s time to take smartphone cybersecurity seriously

It's no secret that today's world is inconceivable without the mobile devices we rely on daily.

The expansion in using cell phones brought a radical change in our routines but also some new challenges, especially regarding security and privacy.

The world has a population of more than 7.4 billion people. Fun fact: there are more cell phone subscriptions than inhabitants on the planet. At least this has been the case in 2017, according to statistics from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

This sustained increase in the use of mobile devices and in connecting  possibilities is not entirely positive. With more and more people using cell phones and similar devices, the increase of malicious cyberattack becomes more frequent.

How hackers exploit vulnerabilities in your cell phone

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have determined that nearly 90% of Android OS phones are often exposed to critical vulnerabilities or at least one critical vulnerability. That's a scary figure. Other research yields even scarier results. About 95% Android devices can be hacked via SMS. Can you believe it?

Although they have a reputation for being more secure, Apple devices are not invulnerable to attack either.

We are increasingly making more and more payment transactions and money transfers from mobile phone - for many, smartphones has retired wallets! That's why banking malware has also been on the rise, which is very dangerous.

Hackers design Trojans that infiltrate our mobile devices to collect  data on logins and passwords used on payment platforms or online banks. Trojan viruses aimed at stealing banking data are one of the biggest and fastest growing threats today.

Hijacking sensitive user information is also common. We tend to store many photos and private information on our cell phones or in the cloud, which can be the target of hackers' attacks. Hackers will then demand money under the threat of public exposure of private content. This type of attack is called ransomware, which was  popular mostly on desktops and laptops and then have been migrating to mobile devices. The more activities we do on mobile devices, the more we attract hackers.

The list of hacker attacks that can occur is quite long. There are also other types of hacker attacks, all dangerous and annoying, such as spyware, MMS malware, mobile adware, SMS Trojans, etc.

We all love free public Wi-Fis - who doesn't get excited by a "free Wi-Fi" sign? Beyond the excitement, we must warn you that these public wireless network spaces are often the perfect place to launch "man in the middle" attacks.

On public Wi-Fi networks, with unencrypted access points, hackers can sneak in as intermediaries and steal sensitive information, such as banking information, or access our email.

How to protect your cell phone from hacker attacks

  • Use strong passwords: Stop using dates or your dog's name as a password, weak passwords make you more vulnerable to hacker attacks.

Do you know what the most common passwords are? Here is an infographic on common passwords. If you’re using one of those, maybe you should consider changing it.

Using strong passwords is the main difficulty that hackers face when accessing online accounts. Some of the traits of strong passwords are:

  • They are long (the longer the better).
  • They are difficult to guess because they avoid sequences such as "asdfg", "qwerty", "abcdef" or "123456", etc. Sequence passwords or passwords that use dictionary words are often vulnerable to brute force attacks.
  • Use varied characters: symbols, numbers,random upper and lower case letters.
  • Avoid obvious substitutions: Substituting "l" for "1"; or "O" for "0" is not a good practice.
  • They are not reused: We know it is difficult, but reusing passwords in several places is not a good practice. The reasons are obvious.
  • Watch out for the security of Wi-Fi networks: We have already mentioned the "man in the middle" attacks that are common when using free public Wi-Fi networks. So this could be a first recommendation: always use a secure Wi-Fi network. This will definitely not prevent you from being hacked, but it can make it difficult for hackers to do their job.
  • Use secure and trusted apps: Unsecured, modified premium apps (mods) abound on the internet. Using any of these poses great risks. Legitimate applications are usually much safer than applications downloaded from unsafe pages and sites.
  • Use antivirus: It's not all bad news. Along with pirate attacks, antivirus options designed for mobile devices are also growing. It is good to run them frequently to check that our phone is clean of any threats.
  • Update frequently: There is no invulnerable operating system, program or application. That is why there are security updates. To be protected it is advisable to be up to date and install all the necessary updates as soon as possible, especially security updates are critical.

Conclusion

After reading this article, it will be clear why it is important not to lose sight of the security of our mobile devices. Devices with which we interact with every moment and that every day are more present in our lives.

It is better to be safe than sorry. Most professionals depend on cell phones for both professional and personal activities. We have all our information centralized, and that is very useful, but it also involves great risks.

If you are one of those people who consider your smartphone as a central part of your life and activity, then you should not overlook the security that will prevent cybercriminals from making you an easy target.


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