Last updated May 2023
Today, our smartphones contain valuable information as we use them like pocket computers – for texting, sending emails, web browsing, online shopping, online banking, travelling and so much more as we recently began to use our devices for remote working.
With smartphones extended functionalities, they are vulnerable to online threats and susceptible to physical attacks due to their portability.
Kaspersky recently reported that although the number of attacks decreased in 2021, the number of attacks became stable in 2022.
In 2022, Kaspersky mobile products and technology detected:
- 1,661,743 malicious installers
- 196,476 new mobile banking Trojans
- 10,543 new mobile ransomware Trojans
Unfortunately, new vulnerabilities are found every day.
In order to keep our devices and personal data safe, mobile device security considerations should become top priority.
Too many people do not protect their mobile devices.
According to Gary Davis, director of consumer product marketing at McAfee, “Consumers recognize the value of their digital assets.
While they are more likely to secure their PCs, they often neglect protection for their other Internet-enabled devices. It is like installing an expensive home security alarm on the front door, but leaving the windows and back door wide open. It just takes one open window to allow a virus, hacker, or identity thief to wipe out all the digital assets on any given device, having their personal and financial info compromised as a result.”
Are viruses and hackers really that big of a threat to your mobile devices and personal data?
In a word, yes.
Often these threats are referred to as “mobile malware.”
Mobile malware is software that has a malicious purpose when installed on your device. It can control or disable your device, and/or steal information.
The major areas you could pick up mobile malware may be areas that you frequently visit often in your day-to-day mobile device use: – URLs and/or attachments in social media or personal email.
Like on any computer, clicking a link or downloading an attachment on your mobile device can install mobile malware – App stores. Though the different app stores try to monitor their stores for malware, they can sometimes sneak in.
Protect Yourself: Avoid Mobile Malware
Though mobile malware is a threat, don’t let it stop you from enjoying the conveniences mobile devices offer.
Following these easy steps can keep you, and your personal information, safe:
- Use biometry (such as fingerprint or facial recognition authenticators) or password/passcode to lock your mobile device. This way, if you physically lose your phone, the information on it cannot be easily accessed.
- Keep your phone updated with the latest firmware, as device makers are constantly improving the security of their OS and correcting possible vulnerabilities.
- Setting up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your mobile device is recommended. A VPN will enable you to connect to a network securely. At the same time, the VPN will shield your browsing activity on public Wi-Fi from prying eyes.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi.
- Like with any PC, do not click links or download anything you do not trust.
Download apps from secure stores. Most apps include reviews, so read up before downloading. Download apps that friends and family recommend. Pay attention when you allow certain permissions for apps when you sign in.
Do not give your apps too much access.
Generally, an app will ask for “permissions” to access certain parts of your device. Read and make sure you agree with the permissions. For example, a game app should not need access to your contacts or location.
Lastly, don’t forget to log out after using mobile applications.
- Consider multi-factor authentication when logging in at some websites
If your mobile device allows two-factor authentication (2FA), do not hesitate to use it.
Use various passwords for different apps and accounts and do not share passwords or sensitive data with third persons.
- Secure your mobile device with antivirus or anti-malware software, especially if you use your phone for business.
- Pay attention when you accept cookies.
- Avoid using autofill.
Securing your mobile device is challenging, but it should be your first priority.
- Mobile devices give us the freedom to work and play on the go, while the many available apps make or lives all the more convenient.
Taking full advantage of all that mobile devices offer comes with risks of mobile malware.
- Mobile malware is most likely to infect a phone when consumers click a malicious link, or download malicious apps through third party software sites.
- Application Stores provide an additional level of security, but common sense is also needed here.
- It is fairly simple to protect yourself from mobile malware by following the best practices outlined here, and by installing anti-malware software.