Leslie A. Farber
Tips for Securing Your Mobile Devices
Cyber criminals are interested in targeting devices where people spend the most time and are the most vulnerable. So it’s no surprise that the explosive growth in the use of mobile devices has resulted in a parallel increase in #cyberattacks on #smartphones and tablets.
While large data breaches focus on the use of malware, mobile security hazards are often less complex. For example, statistics show 91% of cybercrime involves email, using tactics like impersonation to trick people into clicking dangerous links or otherwise providing sensitive information. Mobile users are at great risk of being taken advantage of by these “phishing” scams for several reasons, including the way mobile email is displayed and the fact that people often view multiple inboxes connected to work and personal accounts.
Mobile security is becoming a top priority for businesses, with employees routinely accessing work-related data from their smartphones. Corporate security controls placed on mobile devices currently lag well behind those for desktop and laptop computers, making it difficult to keep sensitive business data from falling into the wrong hands.
Protecting information from outside intruders is also increasingly critical for individuals. Everyone who uses a mobile device needs to use sound practices to keep their personal information safe. Here are four common mobile security threats and tips for protecting your devices:
1: Application-Based Attacks
New applications for mobile devices are constantly coming onto the market. However, any app that has the ability to send links or URLs offers attackers the opportunity to use messages or links to convince users to reveal data or otherwise compromise their security. Keeping too many apps running in the background also increases the chances of your personal information being shared without your knowledge.
Play it safe when installing apps. Avoid installing apps unless they are from trusted sources. While malware can be concealed in legitimate apps, installing apps from third-party sources puts you at greater risk of putting malware on your device.
Configure privacy settings. Most mobile apps offer privacy settings or permission levels that allow you to determine how much and what type of information is shared or stored. Always choose the least amount of data-sharing possible. When you purchase a new mobile device, configure your privacy settings immediately to ensure you don’t inadvertently share sensitive information as you set up standard apps and services.
2: Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks
In addition to cellular connections, smartphones are equipped with Wi-Fi, which is useful for transmitting data over a secure network. While unsecured networks like public Wi-Fi have become increasingly popular, they allow the movement of data across airwaves without any form of encryption or security protection. This puts proprietary information stored on mobile devices at risk of being compromised. Business travelers who rely on public networks are especially vulnerable.
Secure your wireless network. At home or at work, it is recommended that you use a wireless network that is password protected. This prevents unauthorized individuals within proximity from hacking your network, often using it for illicit purposes, such as downloading copyrighted materials causing you to be ensnared in costly litigation, even if you did not wrongfully download any copyrighted materials. Businesses should consider using a virtual private network (VPN), which allows users to connect to the internet through a remote server that securely encrypts all transmitted data.
3: Outdated Devices
Mobile device security resides in the software more than in the hardware. The older a device is, the less likely it is to provide timely software updates and patches for known vulnerabilities. Apple supports its smartphones with updates for about five years after a model is released. Android devices are not as standardized, but in general a phone will stop receiving security updates if it is more than three years old.
Update operating systems and apps. Every mobile operating system and most applications issue patches that fix holes in software before hackers start to use them. Be sure to accept all operating system upgrades for your devices, and update apps when prompted to. If your smartphone no longer gets updates or #securitypatches, it’s time to buy a new phone.
4: Physical Security
Anyone who has lost a smartphone or had their tablet stolen knows how easily it can happen. Unfortunately, a lost or unattended device can be a major security risk if it falls into the hands of someone who will use it maliciously. Worse still, surveys have shown that a large percentage of people fail to have any security guarding their devices.
Lock down your devices. Add a layer of protection by enabling basic security such as a PIN, password or fingerprint authentication like Apple’s Touch ID or facial recognition ID. Set a hard- to-guess password and change it regularly.
Enable remote location and device-wiping. Equip your phone with a tracking app that tells you exactly where it is. Some of these apps also let you “wipe” or delete sensitive information remotely if your phone goes missing.
If you are a victim of cybercrime at work or at home and need legal advice, contact our office at 973-509-8500 x213 or LFarber@LFarberLaw.com.
The contents of this writing are intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion in any specific facts or circumstances.