Statements that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has hacked his phone from Amazon.com boss Jeff Bezos have highlighted security risks with smartphones.
Take the following steps to reduce the risk of your phone being compromised when your news has raised your concern for digital privacy.
Don’t “jailbreak” your phone and install dubious apps
Outside of the licensed Apple, Google and Amazon apps, there are a whole number of unsafe applications that expose the computer to hack.
There is greater risk that you will hack as you jail down your smartphones for downloading game applications or pirated films from outside your app store.
“That dramatically increases your risk for installing malicious apps,” according to Tim Erlin, a cybersecurity expert at Tripwire.
Even though breaking into smartphones have become increasingly difficult.
“Every single app you have runs in what’s called a sandbox. Basically, it’s isolated from all the other apps on the phone,” says Matthew Green, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University.
“So even if there’s a bug in one app … that could lead to something bad some malware being installed that affects that app. But generally speaking, it won’t spread throughout your phone.”
Install all operating system updates
Social media platforms and messengers like Facebook and WhatsApp are also fighting against hacking, and they have warned users to raise awareness.
In 2018, a malicious video file vulnerability was used to hack multiple smartphones; you can combat this with your smartphone and software too, downloading the latest updates.
“Keeping your phone updated is an important step in keeping it secure as well,” says Erlin. “It’s important to install those updates when they’re available.”
Hence older devices are at greater risk, “It’s a choice you can make: If you don’t want to move to a newer phone, you want to accept that risk. Lots of people do, but it does put you at greater risk because you’re no longer receiving security updates,” says Erlin.
Beware of Questionable Attachments and Links
We are often sent an email asking us to click on a link or download a file that usually contains malware, for smartphone hackers, it is sending a link via apps.
“If you think about the apps that you use most commonly, maybe it’s Facebook, maybe it’s Instagram, maybe it’s some other app where you have the capability to send and receive messages,” says Erlin.
“An example would be that in Instagram, you receive a link. Maybe it’s not a file maybe it’s a link from someone you know or you follow that says, ‘Here, I made this for you,’ so you click on that link and it compromises your phone.”
Users should also be very careful in giving away passwords or confidential information such as your financial details.
Protect yourself from SIM-swap attacks. Don’t use your cellphone as a way to verify identity
SIM-swap attacks are one of the hardest attacks to pull off, but this kind of hacking has suddenly increased.
The hacker takes charge of the mobile number of the victim and can trick the telephone company and say it drops its phone and transfers the number.
“That phone number is linked to all of the victim’s online accounts their bank accounts,” states Samy Tarazi, a criminal investigator.
Hence without knowing any of your passwords a hacker can access your email account. “From there, he can reset passwords to any other service banks, cryptocurrency social media” says Tarazi.
“We highly recommend that people not use their cellphone number as a form of verification of identity.”
Be careful about public Wi-Fi when travelling abroad
We may not be very cautious about our Wi-Fi network, but it is also a tool used by hackers to break into your mobile, particularly while traveling outside of Canada.
“There’s still always a chance that somebody could look at the traffic going over the network. You should worry about that,” says Green.
“But really, hacking into your phone is getting much, much harder.”
But, he says, be careful if you try to use a public network and it prompts you to do something suspicious. “Sometimes it’s download this app and then use it to log in,” says Tarazi
“If it ever requires you to download something, definitely do not do that.”
Growing usage of technology to do every little thing has exposed smartphone users to the risk of hacking hence proper measures need to be taken to avoid this.