Think fast: Can you name five people who don’t have a cellphone?
How about just one?
We’re betting that you probably cannot. Surveys conducted by Pew Research Center show that the “vast majority of Americans – 96% – now own a cellphone of some kind.” Furthermore, in 2019, “roughly one-in-five American adults are ‘smartphone-only’ internet users – meaning they own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service.”
One would think that with a technology this widespread and heavily used by all population groups, it would rank in the top of the food chain, security-wise. However, the harsh reality is that this is simply untrue.
These are the facts:
- There were 8.5 million mobile malware attacks in 2016, according to Apex Technology Services.
- Mobile users “are at the greatest risk of falling [for phishing] because of the way many mobile email clients display only a sender’s name,” according to CSO Online.
- People are much more likely to connect to public Wi-Fi networks (both unintentionally and on purpose) than private ones, which can lead to various cyber attacks like Man-in-the-Middle attacks.
- Most applications made for mobile devices do not have the same security standards that regular websites have.
- Cellphones are easier to lose than their less mobile counterparts; ChannelPro Network reports that 70 million smartphones are lost each year.
Thankfully, there are simple, easy steps we can all take to help protect ourselves from cyberattacks and theft and practice safe mobile usage.
Rule #1: Use your lock screen
The best place to start is at the beginning. You have a lock screen. Use it. Don’t leave your phone without at least this form of password protection. In fact, if you’re able, implement two-factor authentication.
#2. Learn how to identify an unsafe app
There are four easy steps to doing this:
- Always check your sources
- Know your vendor and developer
- Ask for permission
- Review the ratings, rate the reviews
#3. Be vigilant while using mobile payment services
There are various risks associated with banking online, especially while using your mobile device. Use your best judgement and try to bank at your local branch or through your private network.
#4. Don’t get passive with your Bluetooth connection.
Turning off your Bluetooth when not needed is an easy way to protect yourself from people trying to maneuver their way into your phone wirelessly.
#5. Update your passwords every 8 weeks
Yeah, it takes a few minutes out of your day. Do it anyway. You’ve heard it before. Just do it.
#6. Use password keeper apps
While you are updating your password, why not try a password keeper app? Many phones have the capability of saving passwords and other login credentials. However, as cellphones have significantly less security standards than their less mobile counterparts, such as credential reuse, this can pave the way for easier hacking by malicious parties. The safest way to store all of your login credentials is via the use of a password keeper app like Keeper.
#7. Pay close attention to your emails
Phishing attacks involve hackers that try to trick you via email into giving them your personal information. Point being: Especially where your mobile inbox is concerned, stay alert! If you receive a mysterious email from your boss asking you for something completely out of the ordinary, there is a very good chance it isn’t from your boss.
#8. Keep a close eye on your location services and GPS tracking
Be sure to only turn on your location services while using the app in question, or not at all (you can even specify which apps are allowed access to your location in your settings). Furthermore, be aware of when your GPS tracking is turned on, as it may be even when you aren’t using your navigation. Not only can this drain your battery life, it also puts you at security risk. It is no secret that big brother is real – act accordingly.
#9. Know when to switch off mobile
We already mentioned before about the importance of being careful when using mobile banking apps. However, your best bet to stay safe with your cellphone is to have an understanding of when *not* to use it. Avoid doing anything that requires the communication of sensitive information (like your banking and other personal info) via your mobile. Computers with more private networks and more prioritized security standards are a much safer option.
#10. Stay off public Wi-Fi networks
We started and ended this guide with this one because yes, it really is that important. Stay off public Wi-Fi networks! Networks that don’t require a password for use are usually unencrypted and therefore significantly less secure. They also set users up for Man-in-the-Middle attacks more often than not. Do yourself a favor and use the data provided by your wireless provider or use a password-protected network or VPN.
In an age where we are all connected all of the time, it can be easy to fall into the trap of being passive when it comes to security. Thankfully, practicing cellphone safety is easy with tips like these.
Need more practical guides like this one? We’ve got you covered with the rest of the Secure360 blog.