Top 3 mobile security threats & how to prevent them

10 April 2019, 9:43 am EDT By Staff Reporter Mobile & Apps
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Most of us use mobiles daily to access the internet. Whether watching videos on the commute to work or idly shopping to kill time during a dull lesson or meeting, smartphones are now a crucial extension of our lives.

But have you ever considered just how safe your mobile use might - or might not be? Mobile related digital crime is now such an issue that millions of people are subject to data hacks every year - and most never even realise it. (Remember when 30 million Facebook users had their data stolen last year?)

When you access the internet online, it is all too easy to fall prey to hackers, snoopers, identity thieves and cybecriminals who want to steal your money.

Other risks include malware distribution and Man In The Middle attacks, which is a form of digital eavesdropping. So what are the main threats and how do you avoid them?

1. Using unsecured public Wifi

When you use unsecured public WiFi, any motivated hacker can potentially access your data. Some hackers even set up fake networks that look like 'authorised' wifi in public places, and then wait for unwitting users to log on and expose their private data for theft.

If you use public Wifi to check your social media, read emails, log on to your bank account or shop online, you are potentially setting yourself up to be hacked. The implications can be extremely serious - with everything from identity theft through to financial theft typical outcomes.

All of a sudden that 'free' Wifi isn't looking or feeling so 'free' anymore!

But the good news is that you can avoid becoming a digital crime victim just by using a Virtual Private Network or VPN. These services just cost a few £££ a month for quality packages. They use servers all across the world to route your data in order to hide your IP address - and online location and identity - from any snoopers.

Most VPN services also encrypt your data as it travels from your device to its destination, providing that extra layer of privacy and security. The end result? Simply by using the VPN - which is quick and easy to install on your smartphone via an app - you can operate online and use a public Wifi without any fear of being visible or subject to a hack.

VPN providers change all of the time, and unfortunately, some of the newer ones are actually fronts for malware. We keep an eye on all the best VPNs on the market so we can recommend the ones that we rate and that our users trust. One of the VPNs that we most recommend is Express VPN.

If you don't choose to use a VPN, at least check what the official public wifi details are before you log onto anything when you are out and about, and just limit your browsing to anything which doesn't use your public data.

For the sake of a few pounds though - or even a free VPN from a decent and reputable provider - it's always worth erring on the side of caution!

2. Data leakages

These often occur via mobile apps. Mobile users end up giving apps sweeping permissions without fully checking their security. These are often free apps that do deliver the performance and offer advertised - but they can also send personal data to a remote server.

Once this happens, it can be mined by advertisers or sold on to cybercriminals. Business data is also at risk in this way, which puts customers at risk.

To avoid this from happening, only ever give apps the minimum amount of necessary permissions and don't use any programs that ask for more permissions than seem to be completely necessary. This will limit your risk. And it goes without saying, that you must only use tried and tested apps which have been heavily reviewed and highly rated.

3. Phishing attacks

In the same way that your computer is at risk from phishing, your mobile is too - especially as your smartphone tends to always be on. In fact, smartphone users are often more vulnerable to phishing attacks as they tend to receive emails that look legitimate before desktop users, and then click without checking carefully enough beforehand...

Desktop users often see security warnings or news about attacks before they log on and click. This means that it is essential to monitor your email and be on your guard. Never click on a link in an email which looks unfamiliar.

Remember that a mobile screen is smaller and this naturally makes it harder to identify what is genuine and what isn't.

When you are commuting or on the go, don't let your guard down. Type in URLs and remember that no bank will ever ask you to click a link and enter your personal details.

If in doubt, wait until you get to your desktop and check the email at leisure - and without distraction.

In summary

You need to be on your guard even more when accessing the internet and digital services on your smartphone. The smart move is to invest in a VPN service and attach protective software to your devices which instantly render you anonymous and secure when you are online.

This means that you will be able to use the internet to its fullest without falling prey to people who are intent on stealing your data, personal profile and money!

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