In the modern world, a typical mobile phone assumes the roleof a computer that you carry around with you all the time. You can use it topay your bills, message your friends, browse the web, do some work, and eventrade stocks. As such, it’s important to recognize the security threats thatare lurking in the wild if you want to protect your sensitive data. If youhaven’t already, now is the time to educate yourself on the subject, startingwith the terms we’ve prepared for you:
1. Data Leakage
When was the last time you checked what security permissionsan app requested before installing it? Too many smartphone users take theoblivious approach and agree with anything and everything that appears on theirscreens. Huge mistake. As it so happens, some of these apps go well beyond thescope of their core functioning and ask for permissions that intrude on yourprivacy.
For instance, if you permitted them to access your appgallery, a third party may be going through it right this very moment. It couldalso be that the apps you’ve installed (particularly those downloaded outsidethe official app store) come with malware bundled in. So mind what you install andwhere you download it from.
2. Public Wi-Fi
In a general sense of the word, public Wi-Fi is not secure.Any time you use such a connection and send sensitive data through it, you’reopening yourself up to the risk of having it intercepted by an unauthorizedthird party. Browsing news, travel directions, and similar content is fine, butas soon as you catch yourself thinking about using it for banking, shoppingonline, or doing work, you’re encouraged to give it a second thought.
If you know what a VPN is, you’ll realize howmuch of a lifesaver it can be in these kinds of situations. In essence, itcreates an encrypted tunnel that safeguards your internet data. Never connectto public Wi-Fi without one.
The main trickery behind phishing attacks is attempting toconvince the victim to hand over personal data through manipulation, deception,fraud, and similar tactics. It’s often accompanied by a sense of urgency. Forinstance, someone may send you an email and misrepresent themselves as yourboss or one of your colleagues.
If this ever happens to you, double-check the sender’s trueidentity by contacting the person through other means. And if they send you alink you’re told to click on, refuse to proceed and type in the address inGoogle or your browser’s URL bar instead. Even so, only do this if yourecognize the website, to begin with.
4. Spyware and Malware
If you’ve clicked on a strange-looking link, opened an emailattachment whose sender you don’t recognize, or installed an app from dubioussources, chances are your smartphone is home to spyware and other forms ofmalware.
Spyware is a huge cause for concern because it’s designed toharvest your browsing habits, track your physical whereabouts, and intrude onyour privacy in other ways. A jealous spouse or a nosy coworker may install iton your device behind your back. The objective behind this is not to spreadparanoia but rather to raise awareness. So be sure to use strong passwords andnever leave your device unattended.
5. Improper Session Handling
Many apps tend to sacrifice security in favor ofconvenience. To help you stay logged in to a website or service without theneed for re-authentication, an app will store a so-called session token on your device. Inside, you’ll finda string of characters generated to help them keep track of your user ID andsession. But if the developing team behind the app consists of amateurs,improper session handling may occur, and these tokens could fall into the handsof malicious third-party actors.
If this happens, you’re in trouble. Not only could they gothrough your profile and gather sensitive personal data right from underneathyour nose, but they could also choose to go a step further and impersonate youto cause further damage, either to your reputation or otherwise. A very basicexample of this is logging in to one of your profiles on a public PC or acoworker’s smartphone then wandering away without logging out. If your sessionis not set to expire upon being inactive, someone could jump behind thedriver’s seat and take control. So always log out of your profile when you’vefinished doing your business.
The first step toward defending yourself is to recognizethese threats. Always remember to treat your smartphone the same way you wouldtreat your computer. When all is said and done, this is what it is after all!