How to protect your Mobile Phone from Cyber Threats?
The use of smartphones is on the rise. Currently in 2023 more than 50% of the world’s population is using mobile phones , there is an ever-increasing need to raise awareness regarding mobile phone cyber threats.
That’s right! These tiny devices that you trust with your passwords, banking details, and all other critical information are prime targets for data thieves. Afterall what better way to sneak up on someone than using their own smartphone to get all the precious information?
According to a recent survey, more than 60% of digital attacks are now targeted at mobile phones. Whether you are running a business, working on a secret project, or simply have some private pictures on your phone, no one wants anyone else to misuse their data.
In this article, we will explain what a cyber threat is and how you can ensure that your phone stays protected from all potential risks.
Cyber Threat: Not a Game!
To begin, it’s important to understand that cyber threats are not something to take lightly. There have been many incidents in the last decade alone that have made us realise the importance of digital security.
For example , you must have heard about the infamous "celebrity data hacks," where attackers released the private photos of some high-profile famous individuals , including Kim Kardashian, Jeff Bezos, and Barack Obama. Now, don’t be fooled. These cyber threats are not limited to celebrities or politicians.
Between 2014 and 2017, private pictures of more than 100 famous women were leaked. Not only this, but hackers can also take loans on your behalf. Once they have access to your microphone, camera, or login details, there are surely no bounds to the extent of damage they can exert on the victim.
The risks of cyberattacks are not limited to your private data, photos, social media channels, or banking details. 2022 has seen the highest increase in the number of DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. This means that even mobile gaming is not safe.
How to make your mobile phone safe and secure?
Hacking tricks and techniques are extremely complex. These attackers are very clever and use multiple algorithms to target sensitive or exposed data. Fortunately, you can avoid falling prey to these attempts by following some simple steps.
When it comes to mobile safety, a good old antivirus goes a long way. You must have seen antivirus software installed or running on your PCs or laptops. The fundamental purpose of an antivirus programme is to detect any malicious activity going on within your system.
If you accidentally download any malicious file, try to open any scam link, or attach any compromised external drive, these apps will automatically send you a warning. With an antivirus app on your mobile, you can rest assured that your mobile is safe from most of the open-ended scams and phishing attacks.
The best part? Most of the antivirus apps are available for free on the Apple Store and Play Store and Play Store. You don’t need to invest any extra money in getting the basic level of security against cyber threats. Some of the most trusted antiviruses that you can get for your mobile phone are listed here.
- AVG Antivirus
- Avast Antivirus and Security
- Virus Cleaner, Antivirus Cleaner
Restricted App Access
While downloading any app on your smartphone, you get a fine print of terms, conditions, and permission to access your pictures, microphone, location, camera, or even contacts (in some cases).
Recently, Snapchat launched its AI tool, which is available for chatting with users. People were really shocked to realise that the AI bot had access to their locations. If you are wondering how, it all comes down to app access. You might have granted access to your location to the app without realising its consequences.
We usually don’t bother reading the whole print and just give access to whatever icon appears on the screen. And that’s not the right approach at all! I realised the importance of this feature some years ago when one of my Snapchat subscribers got to my home just by tracking me on the "Snap Map".
The point behind saying all these things is to emphasise the importance of restricted access. For instance, if you are downloading Google Maps, of course you will need to give access to your location. But you certainly don’t need Facebook or Instagram to keep track of your steps or whereabouts.
If you have multiple applications on your mobile phone and you don’t know which one of these has full access and which has restricted access, then simply follow the below-mentioned steps.
- On your phone, open the Settings app.
- Tap Apps. All apps will appear here. From here, choose the app whose permission you want to change.
- Tap Permissions.
- If you allowed or denied any permissions for the app, you’ll find them here.
- To change a permission setting, tap it, then choose Allow or Don't Allow.
- Go to Settings.
- Search for "Location". You will see a list of all the apps with access to your location. You can also see little icons with the access status, such as While Using, Never, When Shared, or Always.
- You can repeat the same for all other settings, such as microphone, camera, or gallery.
Usually, there are three kinds of access that you can grant to any respective app. These include the following.
- "Always" means that your app can use the permission at any time, even when you’re not using the app.
- "While using" means you have permission to access your location only when you're using that app.
- "Never" means the app cannot use the setting, even when you’re using the app.
Avoid open Wi-Fi Networks
Open Wi-Fi networks are the ones that don’t require a password or use encryption of any type. Granted, connecting to an open Wi-Fi network is very convenient, especially when you are in a hurry. But doing so can allow anyone nearby to easily keep track of all your online activity.
In some cases, these attackers may even create a phoney Wi-Fi network to get access to everyone’s mobile phones. Let’s say you connect to an open network and login to your banking app. A fake page with similar design and UI appears, and as soon as you enter your details, they are saved in the criminal’s database.
The best way out is to avoid using open networks as much as possible. However if you definitely need to connect to a network, then make sure you do not use any critical apps or open any crucial files while you are in an open loop.
Don’t take passwords for granted!
We get it! Remembering too many passwords can be a hassle for anyone. Even I am guilty of putting the same password on every app and platform. However, from a security point of view, I think we all know that having the same password for everything is not a very clever idea.
Suppose an attacker gets access to one of your credentials. The first thing he or she will do is try that password on every other username or email ID. And if you have the same passwords, consider all your networks easily compromised.
To keep this from happening, always make sure to set different passwords for different apps and programmes. And of course, they should be distinguished from the mobile phone’s main password too.
Also, make sure that each of the passwords is strong and of high quality. For instance, try adding some capital letters and some small letters. You can also add punctuation marks such as a full stop, comma, or hyphen to further encrypt your system against any threats.
Double Factor Authentification
One of the easiest ways to break into someone’s mobile phone is via their Google or Apple ID. A Google or Apple ID has access to all your contacts, location, passwords, photos, payment methods, and everything else that matters. So, getting hold of someone’s Google or Apple ID means you have access to the victim's entire network.
This is where two-factor authentication comes in. The purpose of this security feature lies pretty much in its name. When you enable double-factor authentication on your mobile phone, you get a call or code whenever your account is opened via any unauthorised browser or location.
Only after you confirm that it’s really you trying to open the account is access granted. For instance, Google usually shows a login code on your browser’s screen, and three different options are displayed on your mobile phone's screen. If you are trying to open your account for a different user, you can simply select the right code from your mobile phone and enter your account.
On the other hand, if someone else is trying to break into your account, you will get a comprehensive notification about malicious activities observed on your account. When you click "No, it’s not me", Google automatically blocks that server or browser from opening your account.
Most of the iPhone breaches occurred at a time when people realised that Apple IDs kept automatically backing up their data. This way, one copy of the data stays on your phone, and the other is uploaded to the cloud.
Whenever someone breaks into your Apple or Google ID and opens the cloud, they will get everything that you have stored on your smartphone in an as-is format.
That’s not all. If someone has access to your cloud data, they don't only get one-time information from your mobile phone. Instead, they get real-life updates on what you are doing, receiving, or sending via your smartphone. Sothe potential risks could far exceed your initial expectations.
The best solution is to turn off the automated backups unless you really need to upload data to the shared cloud. If not, you can always keep an eye on the data that’s being transferred.
Don’t engage with suspicious websites or applications
It’s a rule of thumb to avoid engaging with suspicious websites or applications. There may be malicious links or code files on these platforms, enabling thieves to get access to your data, locking you out of your own smartphone, or even misusing your device to engage in criminal activities.
The same is true for applications, too. As of now, there are approximately 9 million applications available on the Play Store, and most of them can be downloaded for free. Anyone can be tempted to download these fun-looking apps, but they may be seriously hazardous for your smartphone’s security.
Always make sure to download only trusted and reputable applications. Also, make sure that you are only granting the "needed" permissions to the application.
Imagine that you are roaming around with a lot of cash with you. How will you ensure that it stays safe? Of course, by keeping your eyes wide open and staying extra attentive at all times,
There is no reason why mobile phones shouldn't have the same level of security. The original cost of your mobile, plus the amount that you have in your digital bank, your private information, business, or gaming data, and what else? All of these combined make a mobile phone worth much more than even a pile of cash.
That’s why common sense is extremely important for always staying safe. Don’t interact with strangers online, and never share your passwords with anyone (even the people that you trust the most).
Keep your eyes on your mobile phone at all times. If you are going to be busy or sleeping for a while, make sure that your smartphone is protected with a passcode. If you have a mobile phone with a biometric identification method such as a fingerprint scanner or face recognition, that’s even better!
Conclusively, mobile phone security is not a joke. The threats and attacks may seem like games and fun, but you never know when you can become a victim. That’s why it is important to always be extra vigilant. The steps mentioned in this article can help you ensure maximum safety with minimum hassle. Without spending any extra money, you can stay one step ahead of the data thieves and keep your data safe.
What are some common cyber threats to mobile phones?
Some of the most common cyber threats to mobile phones include malware and spyware, viruses and trojans, drive-by downloads, browser exploits, and phishing or grayware apps.
What are some best practises for protecting my mobile phone from cyber threats?
There are a number of ways to protect your mobile phone from cyber threats are to avoid connecting to open Wi-Fi networks, install an antivirus, keep different passwords for every app, be mindful of app permissions, and lastly, consider the automated backups running on your smartphone.