How to Stay On Top of Your Phone Safety

Smartphones — over the past decade, they have become an indispensable tool of daily life. We use these pocket-size computers for everything. This has always made them a top target for cybercriminals.

Given that we use our phones for sensitive transactions, like online banking, or something seemingly more innocuous like social media, which can accidentally make our most private information vulnerable, it is important to stay safe when using your phone. Iovation reports that in 2019, 59 percent of “risky transactions” in North America transpired on mobile devices. They found that telecommunications is the industry that sees the most mobile fraud, at 75 percent. The previous year, gambling was the most targeted industry, at 60 percent.

Alexander M. Kehoe, co-founder and Operations Director of Caveni Digital Solutions told Readers Digest “there is a very common misconception that phones are not susceptible to hackers the same way computers are.” He added that in the U.S. alone, nearly 1.4 percent of all devices have targeted through a ransomware attack.

“So out of every 100 people you pass on the street, at least one of those people has had a virus on their phone,” he said.

Business Insider outlines some key protective steps to keep your phone safe from cybercriminals:

  • Lock your home screen. They suggest you always lock your screen to keep it safe from prying eyes.
  • Caller protection apps. You can install apps like Burner that keep private numbers private — they generate new numbers that can be used for however long you want and then disposed of, no longer accessible. An app like Firewall lets people send calls straight to voicemail.
  • Don’t charge in public. Public phone-charging ports present a very clear security risk. Connecting to a public charging station transmits your phone’s data. If that port becomes compromised, expect your emails, texts and photos saved on your phone to be at great risk.
  • Embrace two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is the way to go. Whether a passcode or face recognition, smartphones have options for you to add that extra level of security. This is one of easiest — and most essential — methods for securing your phone.
  • Update your software. Software updates that come with your phone provide regular built-in security updates and protections. Don’t wait to update your phone’s software.
  • Be wary of public Wi-Fi. As with public charging stations, public wireless connections can pose a risk. If you are using a public Wi-Fi signal, don’t use it to send sensitive information or use online banking. If you aren’t using your Bluetooth or Wi-Fi when out in public, please turn them off.

Published by Peter Cavicchia

Peter Cavicchia is a retired U.S. Secret Service Senior Executive, now Chairman of the security consulting firm Strategic Services International LLC.

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