What do your smartphone, tablet, or wearable devices say about you? Are you aware of the fact that you are carrying sensitive data wherever you go, all the time? Do you have an idea of how much data your mobile carrier captures? Whether the data is in the form of text messages containing bank account information, private messages to your significant other, or calls referencing sensitive information, your mobile carrier has access to every detail.
And that’s not all. Consider the information you unknowingly sending out to anyone outside of your phone carrier. If hackers breach your data carrier’s server, what will they find in it? Most probably, they can gain essential information such as your current whereabouts, social security numbers, physical address, banking information, etc. The problem is that unless you’ve already prepared yourself for a data breach, your personal information is just there for the taking.
Major companies protect laptops and desktop computers from cyber-attacks by investing massive amounts of resources in antivirus programs. However, while doing so, they forget that handheld devices are totally unprotected. As cyber criminals have become highly experienced at hacking mobile devices, the need for mobile security has also grown with time. For the same reason, mobile security apps, such as a free VPN app, have gained popularity in the recent time, ensuring complete privacy of your identity.
Who Can Access Your Mobile Details?
To prevent unwanted intrusions into your mobile devices, you must first know who poses the biggest threat to your security. Firstly, cyber criminals are the biggest threat when it comes to mobile security. They try to send you viruses and Trojans with the sole purpose of stealing your data or gaining control of your mobile device. Once that happens, they can hack into your bank account to steal money, block your phone, and ask for ransom or gain unwanted access to your personal life.
Secondly, government officials can access your mobile device without getting your permission. If you don’t believe it happens, just ask Edward Snowden – who exposed the National Security Agency in a tell-all exposé. Keep your eyes open for NSA surveillance specialists. You might not be able to spot them, but always double-check the camera of your phone or tablet when you are located in remote places. Remember, big brother is always watching.
Advertisers are another category of people who might be able to access your mobile privacy. Though it isn’t legal, they still find ways around it. Now the question arises, how they go about it? They access your mobile devices and turn on your Bluetooth or data connection in order to make you accept offers and special deals.
Lastly, even a family member or your ex might try to use spying software to see what you’re doing behind closed doors.
Do Mobile Apps Make You Vulnerable?
You bet. All apps collect personal data. The moment you install an app, you are asked to click “Continue”. Most apps find out your exact location, and some can even control certain features of your smartphone, tablet or smartwatch, such as camera, calendar, flashlight or alarm. The biggest threat is posed by apps that can access banking details. If not properly secured, cybercriminals may gain access and steal your most sensitive information.
How to Protect Your Mobile Device
Just because mobile devices are not as secure as we once thought they were, it certainly does not mean that you can’t take some proactive steps to make it harder for the third parties to gain access your devices. Here are a few steps that can help your device stay protected from unwanted intrusions:
- Set a screen lock pattern or password. While your phone lock may not be a 100% failsafe security measure, you’d be surprised at how much more secure it is than an unlocked phone. Therefore, if you carry an unlocked phone, do yourself a favor and start locking your phone when it’s not in use.
- Turn off GPS. Avoid the temptation to leave your GPS on indefinitely. In fact, whenever you aren’t using your GPS, it’s best to turn it off. The same goes for mobile apps that ask you to ‘opt-in’ by turning your location tracker on. Unless you really need it, sometimes it’s best to just leave the GPS off.
- Stop AutoSaving Your Passwords. Do not save your passwords automatically. You’re better safe than sorry, and even if it takes a little bit longer to type your passcodes – it is more than worth it.
- Perform Regular Backups. Do not wait for your computer’s ‘AutoSave’ function to kick in. Instead, just start taking backup of your data at regular intervals.
- Stay Up to Date. Update all of your software, especially your antivirus profile. Do this across all devices. Otherwise, you’re just making it far too easy for unwanted intruders to access your personal information.
Another tactic you may want to consider adopting is using mobile security apps. For example, if you want to ensure that your identity remains private, downloading a free VPN app might be the most practical solution.
If you think that your smartphone is the only mobile device that’s vulnerable to snoopers or cyber attackers, think again! Your tablets and wearables, including smartwatches and fitness trackers also represent prime targets for government agencies, advertisers, hackers, or anyone wishing to get their eyes on your private life. In fact, recently, there have been increasing reports of insurance companies mining the social media and fitness activity of policy holders and claimants.
I hope this article has not only opened your eyes to the risks of leaving your mobile devices unprotected. Furthermore, if you haven’t done so already, please use this as an opportunity to put these tips for a better cause.