Look back at your day so far. Consider everything you’ve done throughout the day that includes your smartphone. Things you’ve done on your smartphone and the things your smartphone has done for you. Transcribed notes? Made phone calls? Set reminders? Counted your steps? Navigated you to a new destination? Reminded you to drink water?
Today, smartphones are an essential part of our life. They are versatile gadgets and the best pocket gadgets we could’ve ever asked for. What makes them so well equipped, are the various sensors that are placed across the gadget. Some seniors you might be aware of and some you might have no clue about. These sensors track everything. They sense temperature, light, humidity, among various other factors.
With smartphones being so integrated into our daily lives, they tag along with us everywhere. Meaning, the sensors also stay close to us throughout the day. If they’re not in your hand, they’re in your purse/backpack, on your nightstand or dining table. They follow and track our every moment throughout the day. Be it any smartphone, it is always on and working, even if the screen is blank. These little gadgets never truly go to sleep. This is why it is so important to ensure you, your phone, and your data are all safe. One misstep and all your confidential data is extremely vulnerable to being exploited.
The Significance Of Smartphone Security
More and more data is being generated on a daily basis. More than ever before in history. Whether we are at home or at work, we are constantly sharing, storing, creating, and accessing large amounts of both corporate and personal data. A large chunk of this is being done on smartphones and other forms of tablets. The cybercriminals of the world are aware of this. As a result, they have shifted their focus to smartphones. Aware that they can steal more money and data from the victims this way.
Cyberattacks on smartphones have increased ten folds in the last 5 years. This has become the most common of all cybercrimes. Over the course of the last year, we’ve seen cybercriminals deploy all sorts of effects strategies, resulting in some of the most successful cyber scams. From Masque to Freak, Stagefright to CORED, and YiSpecter to Wirelurker, there appears to be no end to vulnerability-exposing, malware-deploying schemes that not only corrupt devices but result in the loss of data and money.
On top of all this, our privacy is at stake. Both collectively and individually. As more and more mobile applications and technology companies continue to collect huge amounts of data from their users without their complete knowledge, data breach incidents have gone through the roof. One of the biggest examples of this was the Apple iCloud breach which resulted in many celebrities having their personal data and photographs leaked. Similar incidents have happened with android too. Irrespective of the operating system you use, your data and privacy are still at high risk. Let’s have a deeper look into this.
Android vs iOS: The Reality
This has been a long-standing debate. One which has been going on for years now. While one group believes one OS is efficient and secure. There has always been another group that strongly opposes this view. But, the question is, are the two operating systems really that different?
While this debate isn’t going to end anytime soon, we really need to take them a step back and analyze what exactly puts the two operating systems at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Or are they even at the opposite ends at all?
The most prominent difference between the two is the difference in choice and control. When it comes to choice and control, the two platforms have completely different approaches. When it comes to Apple, what we see is that there is a lack of both choice and control. As an Apple user, you get things “The Apple Way”. The Apple way of privacy, software updates, and even the home screen. There isn’t really room for customization.
When it comes to Androids, you would assume that similar to Apple there would also exist “The Android Way”. But, that is not the case. There is no platform-wide level of uniformity that’s seen across all Android devices. What you see or know about Samsung phones, doesn’t necessarily stand true for all Android devices. This feature helped this particular OS rise to fame.
Apart from this, the basic functioning of both the operating systems is essentially the same. The basic functions, cellular network, and user interfaces are all similar on both. As mentioned above the most major and notable difference is that iOS is a closed system, whereas Android is more open. Essentially, the kind of OS you make little to no difference in the end. Especially when it comes to smartphone security.
14 Guidelines To Keep Your Phone And Data Safe
Smartphone safety doesn’t have to be as complicated as the internet and tech gurus of the world make it out to be. We have curated a list of 14 guidelines that should simplify smartphone security for you. These guidelines are all easy to follow and implement. When it comes to matters like these, a little effort can go a long way. Take some time to implement these guidelines and you can successfully ensure that you, your phone, and your data are all safe.
Activate Automated Screen Lock
You never know when or where you could accidentally leave your phone behind. Under circumstances like these, you will have no idea who could get access to your personal data and do what with it. No matter how careful and protective you are, you can never fully guarantee that you might never lose your phone or that it will never get stolen. So, it’s best to ensure that your phone gets auto-locked after a short period of inactivity. Normally setting up an automated screen lock after 30 seconds of inactivity is ideal.
In a similar instance as mentioned above, if your phone gets into the wrong hands, it is useful to have settings in place that will wipe out all your data from your phone if an intruder was trying to enter it. Enforce automatic wiping of the device, if there are 10 failed login attempts.
Turn On Settings As And When Necessary
It is risky to have all your settings like Bluetooth and location services switched on at all times. You’d be surprised at all the things hackers can do under these circumstances. Turn off your Bluetooth, NFC, Cellular Data, Location Services, and WiFi when not in use.
No More Pincodes
54% of smartphone users in the US do not set up password security on mobile phones. This is highly unsafe. Pincodes are the easiest way to breach and get access to a phone. Treat your screen lock how you would treat your password for any of your social media accounts. Have a unique password that is long and a mixture of letters, digits, and symbols. You could also use pattern codes instead of pin codes.
Avoid Shady Apps
Apps are the number one means through which your personal data could get stolen. Before you download an app, always make sure to check the app comes from the correct developer/company. Also, check other app details to ensure its legitimacy.
Block Adult Content
Have you noticed the number of pop-ups that show up on your browser after you just visited an adult website? These pop-ups are dangerous and can carry viruses that can corrupt your entire system. It’s best to download an adult content blocker on all your devices to avoid this from happening. Use BlockerX to avoid these risks and annoying pop-ups and block adult content altogether.
Watch Wireless Connections
Wireless connections might be extremely beneficial and less expensive, but it comes with its own set of cons. Remember to switch off the wireless connection while not in use. This ensures that malicious parties can’t connect to a device without your knowledge. Change your phone settings so that it does not connect to random wireless networks without your permission.
Only Use The Official App Store
Every time you need to install an app, only use the official app store and avoid third-party apps as much as possible. This will greatly reduce the risk of malware harming your phone.
Be Vary Of Fishy Links
It’s very easy to mistakenly click on links, so you need to be extra vary. Skip clicking on links in SMS, MMS, or even email attachments from unknown or unauthorized senders. Avoiding anything fishy altogether is very simple and should be practiced.
Always Double Check Permissions
When you install apps on your phone, you will be asked for certain permissions. Due to the nature of our busy and hectic lives, we often don’t pay much heed to these “permissions” that we grant to various mobile apps and companies. But, it’s about time you start paying attention. If something looks fishy, deny all access.
Update Apps Regularly
Outdated apps leave your data exposed and vulnerable to attacks. With each app and browser that remains outdated, it increases the chances of your phone getting infected. All it takes is one click on the wrong link and boom there goes all your data. So, make it a point to update apps regularly.
Install An Ad Blocker
An ad blocker is essential, not just because ads are intrusive but mainly because these advertisements on web browsers have been long exploited by cybercriminals. Most ads are usually home malware, so it’s best to stay away from them/
Avoid Public Charging Spots
This might come as a shock to many. But, charging your phone at public charging spots, like the kind at airports and metro stations can leave your phone vulnerable to a security breach. This is because, when you connect your phone to these charging points it not only charges your phone but also transmits different kinds of data. This is a common technique hackers use.
Beware Of Phishing
Phishing is one of the most common types of cybercrime. Here, the victim is contacted through phone calls, emails, or messages and lured into a well-planned trip. It is much harder to recognize phishing on mobile phones compared to the PC. So, keep your guard up at all times, and don’t click on anything suspicious.
Smartphones now are a part of our life. There is no denying that. We need them for our own convenience and our dependence on them isn’t going to change anytime soon. With so many devices available, the attackers are free to target anyone they desire, and the repercussions of these attacks can be quite devastating. So, till better cybercrime laws are introduced and the internet and technology are safer. We as users need to be more cautious with what we do with and on our mobile phones. Hopefully, the 14 guidelines mentioned above help you create a safe environment for using your smartphone.