Today, people spend twice as much time on their smartphones than on desktop computers, being much more vulnerable to mobile threats than ever before. Last year alone, variants of mobile malware increased by 54%, while 1 in 13 web requests led directly to malware. Mobile vulnerability prevails as most users do not protect their devices, but there are ways to protect every smartphone.
Naomi Hodges, cybersecurity advisor at Surfshark, explains that a widespread smartphone security neglect is related to care-free user experience offered by smartphones:
“People spend more time using smartphones because they offer better user experience than desktop computers. However, better user experience makes people care less. Now it’s so easy to get any app at any time for free, that people forget to think about consequences and tradeoffs.”
Research revealed that, among all mobile apps which were identified as malicious in 2017, 27% were lifestyle-related, and 20% were music and audio apps. The information that such apps most often leak and phone numbers and device location, but some of them can do a lot more damage.
“One of the most rapidly spreading cyberthreats today are banking trojans. These are especially worrying in times of booming mobile shopping. Banking trojans use phishing windows to steals user’s banking credentials. Generally, they make fake payment windows look real, and it’s quite difficult for people not to fall for such scams. Of course, users wouldn’t have to worry about those if they protected their mobile devices,” explains Naomi Hodges.
The expert says that basic protection is easy, and in most cases, making few simple checks is enough to put oneself in a sufficiently safe position, “People should change their mindset from ‘my information is not interesting to anyone’ to ‘anything can happen.’”
In addition to this, she provides five tips to protect one’s smartphone.
- Download only official apps: smartphone users should download and install only official apps or the ones they are sure they can trust. It is advised to pay extra attention to free apps, and especially the ones which ask for unjustified permissions. Generally, the rule is – if you are not paying, you are the product.
- Use a VPN: VPN is one of the safest tools to protect one’s privacy. Paid VPN services have lots of premium functions, such as advanced malware blockers which also block trackers and ads on any devices.
- Keep your software up to date: security-aware people should always keep all their apps and operating systems (Windows, iOS, Android, etc.) up to date. Regular updates are of crucial importance to maintain the security of any application.
- Read before pressing ‘accept’: the devil is often in the details. Europeans are protected under the GDPR, but the rest of the world is not. People should get used to reading privacy policies before accepting because once they give their permission to spy on them, there are no tools which can help.
- Do not share your phone: people should treat their phone as any personal item and avoid sharing it with others. Even if a trusted friend unintentionally clicked on some malicious link on your mobile, you would be the victim.