Phones and tablets contain a large amount of personal information. Lost or stolen devices can be used to gather information about you and potentially others. Protect your phone like you would your computer. If your phone can browse the web and check email, you have probably already been targeted by the same malicious attacks and scams that go after your computer.
What are the risks?
Cybercriminals can use mobile malware to steal personal information, monitor calls, intercept messages, and even activate your device’s microphone or camera. When a stranger has access to your mobile device, the risks include invasion of privacy, identity theft, cyberbullying and even extortion.
Secure your mobile device
- Use a password on your phone and a PIN on your SIM card. Don’t rely on the default factory settings. Using a password and PIN will deter thieves from accessing your phone or using the SIM in another phone to make calls.
- Set an idle timeout that automatically locks your phone when not in use. This also helps prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to your data.
- Keep all software up-to-date, including the operating system and installed apps. This will help protect the device from attacks and being compromised.
- Do not jailbreak or root your device. Jailbreaking and rooting removes the manufacturer’s protection against malware.
- Install apps only from trusted sources such as the Apple iTunes Store or Google Play. This will help you avoid malware which is often distributed via illicit channels.
Mobile devices can get viruses too
Anti-virus, anti-theft, anti-malware and firewall software are available for some mobile phone operating systems. Make sure to install security software from a reputable provider.
It’s not ‘just a phone’
- Treat your smartphone like your wallet – keep it safe and on you at all times.
- Remember your smartphone is a computer – all the same security rules apply. This includes checking the authenticity of websites, not clicking on links from people you don’t know, and watching out for phishing scams asking for personal information.
If your mobile device is lost or stolen
Immediately change all passwords for accounts that are accessed on your mobile device, especially email accounts. If someone gains access to the device, they will have access to all your email, social networks and shopping apps until all your passwords are changed.
More than half of all smartphones are now running Android operating system. Because Android is an ‘open’ operating system, anyone can release apps for it. As a result, Android may be more prone to malware than other mobile operating systems.
- Make sure you download apps from a legitimate app store such as Google Play Store. The apps found on these stores are monitored and scanned for dangerous or fake programs.
- You should only install apps outside of the Google Play Store if you know without a doubt that the app is safe. Do your research and read reviews before installing.
- Android devices include a security setting called “Unknown sources”, which allows you to install apps from unknown sources. Make sure the box is unchecked, to prevent installation of apps that do not come from the Google Play Store.
- The Android operating system also includes a malware scanner. If you have downloaded an app outside of the Play store, you should scan the app before installing. The feature can be accessed in your Settings, under Security, and choose “Verify apps”.
- When installing an app, pay attention to the app’s permissions. It will show you if the app needs access to certain parts of your mobile device. If any of the permissions look suspicious, or if you don’t want to share the information, don’t install the app.
- You should also be aware that most pirated or cracked apps usually contain some form of malware.
- If there is a software update for your device, make sure to download and install it. Updates usually contain bug fixes, enhancements and new features to make your device more secure.
- For added protection, you could also install antivirus software on your Android device. There are many antivirus apps which can be found in the Google Play store.