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12 Ways to Protect Your Smartphone from Cyber Attacks

smartphone cyber attackEvery year security experts warn that our smartphones are due for a major attack.

This year is no different.

That mini computer you carry with you is a growing target for hackers. We use them to surf the Net, read email, watch news…not to mention they’re also being used as mobile wallets.

Heck. You’re probably reading this article from one now.

Smartphone Cyber Attacks: The Numbers

How serious is the risk?

Scary, isn’t it?

But there’s good news too:

“. . .advance research and development in the areas of mobile device integrity verification, data loss prevention (DLP), risk analytics and trusted mobile computing.”

Ways to Prevent a Smartphone Cyber Attack

Here are a couple of suggestions you can use NOW to safeguard yourself:

1. Get rid of your phone:  You could just go Enemy of the State [6] and get rid of the thing. But who are we kidding? You’re not going to do that and I’m not doing that either. (I’m actually cracking up while writing this.) But the truth is, you won’t have to worry about security with that strategy.

2. Set a passcode:  Set a password on your mobile device so that if it is lost or stolen, your data is more difficult to access. One of the the biggest security risks is old fashioned carelessness. Data is most often taken from mobile phones when they’re lost or stolen and aren’t protected by a password. It’s an open invitation for thieves to go rummaging around.

3. Check your phone bill: Be on the lookout for unusual behaviors on your phone, which could be a sign that it is infected. These behaviors may include unusual text messages, suspicious charges to the phone bill, or suddenly decreased battery life.

4. Download from trusted sources:  Before downloading an app, conduct research to make sure the app is legit. This includes checking reviews, confirming the legitimacy of the app store and comparing the app sponsor’s official website with the app store link to confirm consistency. Many apps from untrusted sources contain malware that once installed – can steal information, install viruses, and cause harm to your phone’s contents.

5. Backup and secure your data: You should backup all of the data stored on your phone such as your contacts, documents and photos. These files can be stored on your computer, on a removal storage card, or in the Cloud. This allows you to restore the information to your phone should it be lost, stolen or otherwise erased.

6. Understand app permissions before accepting them: You should be cautious about granting applications access to personal information on your phone or otherwise letting the application have access to perform functions on your phone. Make sure to also check the privacy settings for each app before installing.

7. Wipe data on your old phone before you donate, resell or recycle it:  To protect your privacy, completely erase data off of your phone and reset the phone to its initial factory settings.

8. Make sure you have a security app: Download a mobile security [7] app that scans every app you download for malware and spyware and can help you locate a lost or stolen device. Also, make sure the security app protects from unsafe websites.

9. Report stolen phones: If your phone is stolen, you should report the theft to your local law enforcement authorities and then register the stolen phone with your wireless provider. This provides notice to all the major wireless service providers that the phone has been stolen and will allow for remote “bricking” of the phone so that it cannot be activated on any wireless network without your permission.

10. Read the FCC’s Smart Phone Security Checker: The Commission released an online tool called the “Smartphone Security Checker [8]” in December. It outlined a 10 step action plan mobile users can follow to prevent their personal data from being exposed. Experts believes it is one of the most comprehensive set of rules for safeguarding smartphones.

11. Watch out for pirated apps: Be careful of apps that offer a typically paid app for free or an app that claims to install or download other apps for you. Remember: you get what you pay for.

12. Never wire money to someone you don’t know: This goes without saying, doesn’t it?

Are there any other ways you can think of to protect your smartphone?

Cyber [9] Photo via Shutterstock