In recent times, mobile phones have become much more than mere communications devices. People now use them to send e-mails, check the news, the weather forecast, and even access their bank accounts. To transmit data to and from the device, it needs to be connected to a wireless network, which may or may not be safe. This is true for Android and iOS alike. To protect your data from getting intercepted by hackers, you should install a mobile VPN, but that’s far from the only cybersecurity threat you can potentially fall victim to. Here are 6 of the most common ones:
1. Getting your data intercepted
Installing a mobile VPN is a perfect solution for making sure the data you transfer through a public Wi-Fi network won’t get intercepted by an unauthorized third party. Just think of what could potentially result from getting your login credentials and personal document scans intercepted; would you want to wake up with an empty bank account and a stolen identity? We don’t think so. Also, using a mobile VPN will help you stay anonymous and cover your tracks online if you don’t want other people snooping on what you’re up to (for example, the websites you visit will only know your fake IP, not the real one).
If you’ve downloaded and run a suspicious-looking attachment or software, your mobile phone could be infected with malware. Some of it is less dangerous and only displays annoying ads on your screen, while other variants can be more serious and even collect and send sensitive data back to the cybercriminal who deployed it. There have been known cases of jealous spouses deliberately installing spyware that intercepts and forwards received and sent files, text messages, photos, etc. To fight against this, installing good antivirus software is very much recommended.
3. Phishing campaigns
How often have you heard the advice “don’t open links in emails sent from unknown sources”? To be completely safe, you shouldn’t click on a link sent through an email in any case and always enter the URL manually (unless you’re 100% sure the sender is legitimate). The reason is simple; hackers are quite clever, and by masquerading as someone else and misrepresenting their true identity, they can lure you to a fake login form designed to steal your login credentials, which are then sent back to the perpetrators. This is known as phishing. One of their common tricks is to play on your sense of duty and pretend the email they’ve sent you came from your boss, to name one example.
4. Losing physical access to your device
In today’s busy world, your phone could fall out of your pocket at any time, never to be found again. Or it may be stolen by a stranger. In either case, without doing regular backups, your data would be irrecoverably lost. In case you store something of value on it (like work-related files, for example), the consequences could be dire indeed. Worse yet, just think of what might happen if the sensitive information comes into the wrong hands? Well, if you use strong encryption, this data will be useless without the key. And regular backups to the cloud ensure that at least you can always access it from another device whenever needed.
5. Third-party apps
There are plenty of iPhone and Android apps you can install from the web, but if you’re not installing them from the official app store, there’s a higher chance of them containing malware or being hacked in another way. Not all of them are (and, in some cases, even the ones you can find in the official app store may contain a malicious piece of code), but it’s less risky if you limit your app choices to the ones you can find on the official app store. If an app you’re trying to install is asking to access way too many things than what might be considered reasonable, that’s a definite red flag. The problem with some of these is not that they contain hidden malware – they can even be malware that’s pretending to be a legitimate app.
6. Zero-day vulnerabilities
As time goes on, new vulnerabilities are discovered and patched in iOS and Android. The same goes for apps, so you should always make sure to keep everything up to date, otherwise, you can be vulnerable to exploits and made easy prey for hackers. While you’re at it, make sure to run regular antivirus scans as well.
And there we have it! Being aware of these 6 threats and their corresponding solutions should be more than enough to get you motivated to start implementing all the necessary cyber security measures on your mobile phone. After all, prevention is better than cure.