This post was originally written and posted on March 2, 2108 by Kara Erhart for Stay Safe Online.
In the 21st century, one can hardly imagine life without the most reliable and indispensable companion – a smartphone. These tiny devices perform a variety of functions that transcended the initial purpose of talking over the phone and sending SMSs by far. At present, phone users communicate via numerous instant messengers, store data on their devices, conduct financial operations via mobile banking, search for information online and use many more useful functions that a smartphone offers. But have you ever given a thought to the dark side of such intense reliance on your phone? Many of you will be surprised to know how many ways this handy device can be used for nefarious purposes and how extreme reliance threatens your security.
1. Corporate Data Leakage
We use phones everywhere we go; they are our committed companions in everything we do, from a morning workout to the working day in office. Even at night, most of us keep phones under the pillow or next to our beds for emergency cases and just to stay connected. Thus, it is not surprising that corporate spies have embraced this trend and developed means of stealing corporate data from users’ phones. If your gadget is not well protected and you keep some of the information related to your job on it, you may be vulnerable to corporate data leakage.
This happens as follows: individuals storing work-related documentation and sensitive data in their phones connect not only to the work and home networks, but also visit public places. Thus, criminals may urge your device’s synchronization with a public network and elicit all data they need from your device without you realizing it’s happening. To avoid that, both employees and employers caring about their reputation and security of their business secrets should guarantee reasonable protection of their devices. Moreover, if you are a business owner afraid of such leakage, it is worth introducing a code of conduct for employees that details personal device use in the workplace.
2. Personal Data Theft
This is also a common problem of today’s indiscriminate use of smartphones by digitally challenged people or a joint use of gadgets by adults and children. While adults may possess a certain degree of caution about how they use smartphones and be able to distinguish malicious programs and software, children are usually ignorant of such dangers. So, they may download anything they find appealing, and let the criminals into your device, giving them access to whatever personal information you may have on it.
Avoiding such a situation is also possible if you take proper steps to protect your family from personal data theft. Install some effective anti-spyware program to block unauthorized access to your gadget; teach your children the fundamentals of digital safety. Conduct regular cleaning of your phone to see whether any unintended programs have creeped into the system. This measure may help you keep your personal data intact.
3. Malware Doorway
There is a huge number of criminals online who wish to get access to personal data of users and use it to their advantage. It may be cyberbullying or personal blackmailing; it may be financial theft or simple spying. Any kind of malware on your smartphone is bad since it violates the limits of your privacy.
There are numerous ways of securing your phone from trespassers, such as installing a firewall, anti-spam software and antivirus systems. Though antivirus programs are much more popular for PCs than for on-the-go devices, the recent increase of using phones for online purposes makes it mandatory to care about mobile security as well, so don’t ignore this danger. Once you detect some malware on your gadget that steals or destroys your information, it may be too late.
Besides storing access to your mobile accounts and operation of those accounts from the mobile device, you may also store payment card information on a phone, too. Many people do so, though a thief getting access to your purse and your phone may then be able to access all the money you have, and that’s truly scary! To avoid this, don’t store all your financial data in a phone, or at least use additional (double or triple) password protection systems. In such a way, thieves are unlikely to get easy access to your accounts, which will give you time to contact the bank and inform it about a theft.
The final point to consider is the typical use of smartphones for corporate or personal espionage. With the advent of numerous spying programs, many of us do not feel secure, since privacy has become quite a challenge. Spying software has some innocent uses such as parental control or control over data management of employees in the workplace. However, with nobody there to control the observance of these boundaries, these types of programs are often abused by too-curious significant others, as well as by spies wishing to find something out about you, your personal life or your private business data. So, to keep this information intact, we recommend you conduct regular reviews of programs installed on your phone and scan for malicious software.
Be careful with phone use, and keep your private life private!