Cybersecurity Checkup© for August

Cyber Threats to Mobile Devices

How do you protect your Mobile phone?   Do you even think about protecting your mobile phone?  Something that is said about computer security people, is you put a smart phone in our hands, and we become dumb.

The mobile phone is a mini computer.  While you may not write a novel or prepare a PowerPoint presentation, on your phone, more than likely, you are using the mobile phone to process your email, search the Internet, access GPS, store your contacts and photos, and download your favorite social media and banking applications.

The hand held device, which has become our constant companion, is a powerful tool which houses your personal identifying information and sadly, it is not secured.  Your home computer, whether laptop or desktop has many traditional security controls, such as a firewall and antivirus software, that help protect your information, while at home.  But your mobile device is not sitting behind a perimeter of security measures, and because of this fact, your mobile phone has become an attractive target for cybercriminals.

What kind of cyber-attacks can you expect on your phone?

Many of the attacks are similar to what you presently experience on your home computer. Phishing, browser, ransomware, and email are all the same attack vectors that are used universally, regardless of the computer operating system, or device. However, mobile devices, since they are portable and easy to use, make them a more accessible target, especially for physical theft.

Last year, over three million mobile devices were stolen.  Many of these devices did not have a simple passcode.  So the thief not only has your phone, but also your personal information, a win-win for the thief.  Additionally, over one million mobile devices were lost by their owners, which creates the same scenario of also having your personal information taken.

Presently, you may be surprised to find out that mobile phone malicious software has doubled since last year and there is over one hundred and forty thousand mobile malware samples.  The number of malware sample for mobile phones is surprisingly high considering the short amount of time smart phones have been on the market.   Coincidentally, mobile applications have a high rate of vulnerabilities as well, which create a perfect cybercriminal opportunity.

What can you do to protect your mobile phone?

The first and easiest way to protect your phone is to lock the screen with a four digit pin.  In the event that your phone is lost or stolen, your information will not be readily available to whomever has your mobile device.

Second, is similar to your computer, and that is back up!  Back up your information on your mobile device.  Think about how many photos that we all take on our mobile phones.  We often do not feel the loss of our personal identifying information, but to lose photos of the last holiday’s spent together, would be devastating.

Third, is similar to home computers as well and that is to install anti-virus software.  The anti-virus market for mobile phone is not as mature as with traditional laptops and computers, but it is good to have additional security controls on you phone.

The fourth control that you can use to protect your mobile device is software that can locate your phone, and software that can also erase the digital content on your phone in the event that it is lost or stolen.

While there are more security controls than the ones that I have listed above, these are just a few additional steps that you can take to keep your mobile device and you safely connected.

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