More and more of our daily activity takes place on our smartphones. Not only have many of our everyday tasks moved online, but we’ve taken it a step further, completing tasks from working to shopping to banking on our mobile devices. While being able to do errands and work anytime, anywhere is certainly convenient, it also comes with a wide range of security risks.
One of the main reasons for security problems is that “more activity is occurring on mobile phones,” according to Vancouver-based tech innovator Thierry LeVasseur. “People are making more purchases on their cell phones, and it is sometimes difficult to detect vulnerabilities. Hackers can steal credit card information through applications, glitches in mobile payment services and unsecured networks.”
Whether it’s public WiFi or your data network, using unsecured or non-private connections to perform tasks using your sensitive information is asking for trouble. These networks are the easiest to hack, making your data more vulnerable. Symantec suggests using a mobile VPN to increase your security when using unsecured networks to increase security. “However,” they warn, “ensure that the mobile VPN you download is legitimate and not harvesting any data off your phone.”
Another way to secure your smartphone is to only provide the required information when filling in online forms. According to Arnie Gordon, President of Arlyn Scales, users should read the fine print before handing over a lot of personal data and clicking “I agree.” These agreements often allow sites to sell your information to third parties. “Of course, we want the benefits of smart devices, but only give the bare minimum of information and have secure passwords to limit vulnerability,” he explains. “A form may ask for your address and date of birth, but if not asterisked, it is not needed.”
Many of us are so attached to our smartphones that we don’t even want to give them up for a few minutes while they update. However, ignoring updates can leave your mobile device more susceptible to cyber attacks, according to Paul Lipman, CEO of BullGuard antivirus software. When we get those notifications for updates, “it often feels easier to just click the “remind me later” option” he says. “Nevertheless, updates are important to get the latest vulnerability patches. Known vulnerabilities are easy targets for hackers, so make sure to take updates as soon as they are available.”
In a world where we are constantly on the go and connected to the internet, it’s easy to put convenience before security. However, when it comes to protecting your personal data, taking precautions when using your smartphone can help you avoid a life-altering breach.