Keeping Your Mobile Devices Safe From Cyber Threats

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The landscape of cybercrime is constantly changing and growing as hackers seek out new ways to make money. Researchers are constantly finding evidence that malicious activities and software are growing. Here are some of the known areas that we will see continued growth in, and that you should be aware of:

Mobile Ransomware

Ransomware is common on PCs, and it is now moving to mobile devices. Criminals will hijack your ability to access all of the data on your phone, or they can even use your phone without you realizing it.

This means you are faced with consequences such as losing your call history, contacts, photos, or messages. You also might have to pay a ransom, and even if you do, you might not get your data back.

Botnets

You also might find botnets infecting your mobile devices. These are networks of computers that are infected by and controlled by criminals for their malicious activities. These botnets are the largest sources of spam emails, too. The criminals are one step ahead, too, as it seems as if each one of these is closed down, more of them open up.

Malicious Apps

We will also see more malicious apps as the mobile malware scene continues to grow. These apps are able to buy other apps from app stores without your permission and with your money. Where does this money go? Right in the pockets of the bad guys. We also believe that these attacks will be able to occur without you even installing an app, which is even scarier because there is no interaction on your part.

Hacking Trading Services Online

Online forums for criminals have long been used to both buy and sell criminal services, but back in the early days of cybercrime, many criminals did their dealings face to face. Now, many years later, the growth of the traditional methods are still used, but in a much-improved way.

These days, criminals can trade services with others with a simple click of the mouse, they can use anonymous payment methods, and they can even receive purchases without directly contacting the seller.

Tap and Pay — Mobile

iPhones and Android smartphones that have NFC, or near-field communications, enabled, are quickly becoming universal. With this, users can make purchases by simply tapping and paying via their cell phones. They do this will a digital wallet attached to a bank account or credit card, and thieves want in on the cash. They do this by using a “bump and infect” method, which in the past some research has shown that it allows them to steal cash from digital wallets where vulnerabilities in the NFC exist. This is especially the case in places such as malls, theme parks, or airports.

Additional Security Measures You Can Take

In order to protect yourself from these attacks, keep the following in mind:

  • Install Some Security Software on Your Device: With more mobile threats than ever before, it is imperative that you make sure to protect your smartphone just as you might your computer. Consider using security software that will protect your phone from malware, viruses, and the loss of information.
  • Create Better Passwords: If you still use passwords such as your pet’s name or address, you have to start getting serious about your security. Make passwords at least eight characters long, and make sure to combine letters, numbers, and symbols. Do not include any information that might be guessed, such as the name of your child or dog.
  • Keep Software Up-to-Date: You also must make sure to update your software on your device when prompted. These updates often include fixes to any holes in security or vulnerabilities.
  • Check Bank Statements and Mobile Charges: Finally, make sure that you are checking your mobile charges and bank statements regularly for any suspicious purchases made from your cell phone.

Securing Your Mobile Device

There are many new mobile devices that are coming out all of the time, and if you get one, you must make sure that you are protecting it.

Here are eight things to keep in mind:

1. Threats Aimed at Mobile Phone Users Are Growing

Malware for mobile phones are on the rise, and Android is the most targeted operating system.

  • Malicious apps are still one of the top threats, so make sure that you are only installing apps that you get directly from a reputable app store. Downloading third-party apps could end up infecting your device or sharing your information.
  • Consider installing threat protection for your mobile device to safeguard against malware and viruses.
  • Apply app updates and system updates as soon as possible, as they often include security fixes and patches.
  • Turn off any antennas you do not need. For instance, if you are not using GPS, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, turn it off. Only turn them on when you need it, as it will help to keep you safe and it will make your battery last longer.
  • Do not store any personal info, such as account numbers or passwords, on your mobile device.

2. Transfer Your PC Best Practices to a New Apple Device

When you get a new Apple device, such as an iPhone or iPad, use the same best practices to protect it as you use to protect your PC. Mac malware is on the rise, and it looks as if it will continue.

  • To my knowledge, there currently isn’t an option to install security software that has been developed for Macs on an iPhone.
  • Do not leave your device alone, as a thief will grab it and access your information.

3. Protect Your Netbook or PC

  • Make sure that your PC has a comprehensive security software suite.
  • Your software should include parental controls, anti-spam, anti-theft protection, and wireless network protection.
  • Remember, free software only offers limited protection — you get what you pay for.
  • Do not only rely on anti-virus software to protect your computer. This is not enough for full protection. Instead, look for software that offers firewalls, up-to-date protection, and assistance in protecting against threats.
  • Have encryption protection for your data in addition to full security.
  • Don’t forget to check to see if the protection installed on a new PC is just a trial. If it is, make sure to purchase the subscription to ensure that you have continuous protection.

Global surveys show that home internet users have estimated that the assets stored on their computers and mobile devices, such as contacts, photos, and entertainment, are worth about $37,000. However, more than one-third of these people did not have any protection on their devices. The best products offer data backup, the ability to restore, and advanced security.

4. Shop and Search Safely

Also, make sure that you are shopping and searching safely. In past studies, McAfee Labs has shown estimates that there are more than 43 million websites out there that are suspect and pose a threat to your computer or mobile device.

  • To help you avoid these sites, make sure to use a safety advisor software that will show you which sites are risky and which are safe.
  • When shopping, keep an eye out for trustmarks on the sites, which shows that the site has passed testing for hacker vulnerabilities.

5. Watch for Ransomware and Scareware

  • Scareware is software that makes users believe that a computer is infected in order to get them to purchase fake software, and then hand over their personal details.
  • Ransomware often appears through pop-ups or emails, and sometimes accuses users of visiting an illegal website. Commonly, these claim to be from the FBI or police and threaten to lock a person’s system until they pay a fine.
  • Ransomware continues to grow each year and scareware continues to affect millions of people each year.
  • Remember, do not buy antivirus software from a pop-up. Always buy this software from a vendor who is reputable, and one that keeps your system up to date.

6. Educate Household and Pay Attention to the Online Activity of Your Children

  • Make sure to keep your computer in a common place in your home. Discuss what types of information is appropriate to share with others online. Remind them to not share phone numbers, addresses, or other information.
  • If you have kids or young teens in the home, make sure to limit their access to the internet. Use a filtering tool that will protect them from accessing content that is inappropriate, such as nudity, pornography, profanity, school cheating sites, or online hate groups.
  • Do not assume that your child cannot turn off any parental controls you set. They are probably smarter than you think.

7. Protect Entertainment/Gaming Devices — Nintendo, PlayStations, and Xboxes

  • Remember, most gaming devices are not constantly connected to the internet, and they are vulnerable to the same threats that a computer is.
  • Make backups of games to protect the investment you made.
  • Use the parental controls, which allow you to control what games children are playing and when the device is used.
  • Only connect the device to a secure internet network.
  • Do not store any personal information on the gaming device.
  • Consider whether or not you want your kids to play with strangers over the internet.

8. Protecting Removable Storage Devices — Portable Hard Drives and Flash Drives

  • Buy security software that will protect these devices and use a password.
  • Do not leave your storage device unattended, as they are easily taken by thieves.
  • Consider using encrypted USB sticks. These scramble your information, which makes it unreadable if the device is stolen or lost.

Most of us do not have the knowledge, time, or resources to protect our identities. However, it is important to remember that it is not always possible to prevent all fraud or identity theft. This is why it is best to take the steps that you can and invest in some type of protection.