Have you ever thought about how secure your smartphone data really is?
Your personal data is at risk pretty much at all times. When we use payment apps to pay for things, register online, or using public Wi-Fi, we transmit a lot of data that could be accessed.
Mobile security issues could even happen to those spending millions on protection solutions. A few years ago, Starbucks’s official payment app was compromised, exposing data of 16 million users.
In 2020, the issue of mobile security becomes even more relevant, as cybercriminals devise new, more sophisticated ways to access your data.
Here’s how to keep your data safe.
1. Check for Signs of Social Engineering Before Clicking Email Links
All of us receive tons of emails every day, so it’s one of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to get their hands on private information.
This makes us vulnerable to an email-based social engineering attack. Put simply, social engineering is a practice of deceiving people to break security practices.
Here’s how this attack works. A cybercriminal sends an email with a link to a website – typically a well-known one – that resembles another website visually but really is a copy of it.
If a person clicks on the link in the email and ends up giving that website personal information without realizing the fake, they’re basically giving it away.
While social engineering attacks like these mostly target business email users, they’re still a major security threat to private users, too.
So, don’t open emails or click any links inside if:
- the email seems to have been sent by an untrusted or unknown source
- the email seems to use branding elements of renowned companies but the graphics look funny, weird, or just unusual
- the link contains spelling errors in the company’s name, e.g. com instead of Google.com.
2. Avoid Charging Your Smartphone at Public Charging Points
It might be very tempting – and sometimes necessary – to charge a dying smartphone with a public charger. They’re really everywhere these days – airports, coffee houses, shopping centers, conference rooms, etc. – so many smartphone users are happy to use them.
But there’s one major thing to remember: they can make your smartphone susceptible to a security breach.
Because your smartphone also transmits data while charging, your data such as contacts, WhatsApp messages, emails, and photos could be accessed by third parties if the outlet has been compromised with juice jacking.
This technique is largely unknown, but cybercriminals have been successfully using it for quite a while now. It works like this: they load malware into public USB cables or ports that infect the devices whose owners try to charge them.
As a result, hackers can access private data and even lock up the devices completely.
To keep your device and data safe, try to keep an external battery in your backpack for emergencies.
These devices aren’t allowed on planes, so you could buy the-called “USB condom” instead. It’s a protective device that blocks data transmission but allows charging. It will set you back by just five bucks but could really help to keep your data uncompromised.
Also, try these 10 safe phone performance optimization tips instead of risky rooting or jailbreaking.
3. No More Experiments with Rooting or Jailbreaking
Smartphone producers are discouraging people from rooting their Android and jailbreaking iOS devices in every way they can. But still, a lot of users do it because they want better phone performance (plus it’s totally legal).
Those benefits, however, may cost at a cost. If, for example, someone jailbreaks their iPhone, they save cybercriminals a lot of time and effort. The reason is that they’re stripping their device of essential security features.
The official statement from Apple says that jailbreaking:
- exposes the devices to more security threats because it removes security layers that protect personal data from malware and viruses
- increases the risks of unexpected crashes that may lead to data loss and performance issues
- accelerates battery drain and shortens the operations.
So, don’t try to jailbreak or root your phone to keep it safer.
Read more: Why are Huawei Phones a Security Risk?
4. Once Again, Be Careful with Public Wi-Fi Hotspots
Public Wi-Fi is a good idea to avoid burning the terabytes in the cell phone plan. Many public hotspots are pretty safe, but some are not, so you need to keep that in mind.
A skilled hacker can easily get access to your data or infect your device with malware. What’s more, some of them can eavesdrop on Wi-Fi signals, capture login credentials, and hack into your social media or work accounts.
Here’s how you can minimize these risks:
- don’t connect to unknown public Wi-Fi hotspots. There are networks that you can trust – Starbucks hotspots, official hotspots inside shopping malls, etc. – but if you see that the network comes from a private device or has a weird name, refrain from connecting
- browse only secure websites. If you must connect to a public Wi-Fi, use secured websites built with HTTPS
- use a 4G LTE Signal Booster. If your call is breaking up or the speed is your main reason for connecting to public Wi-Fi, try a 4G LTE signal booster that provides better reception
- have an anti-virus app installed. It will protect your device from many cyberattacks by notifying you about them.
Pro Tip: Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It redirects your traffic, hiding your device’s IP address when you access websites; it also encrypts the connection, reducing the chances of an unauthorized user intercepting and reading it.
VPN is a nice solution for both smartphones and computers and is becoming a must for those working from home and public places.
Read more: A Complete Guide to VPN.
Use These Mobile Security Tips to Keep Your Device Safer
The biggest problem that contributes to mobile hacks is the false perception of security that many smartphone owners have. Network and computer security, for example, are treated much more seriously, but smartphones aren’t prioritized for some reason.
This is what makes many of us connect to a public suspicious Wi-Fi, a charging port, or root devices without thinking twice about the consequences.
Hopefully, you will keep these mobile security tips and use them to keep your smartphone healthy.