Keeping Your Mobile Device Secure On-The-Go

By: 
Nathan Whittacre

We live in a mobile world. Even when we’re at home, we’re connecting to people and places all over the world. Even in the current conditions of social distancing, many of us are likely getting out of the house when we can and even taking a road trip or two. Since getting out doesn’t necessarily mean, disconnecting, keeping your data secure is just as important as when you’re working at home or in the office.

Mobile phones are a great tool to stay connected and even get work done without having to lug around your laptop. However, like computers and laptops, mobile devices are vulnerable to cyber security threats.

Common Security Threats

Malicious Apps – These are apps created by scammers that appear as legitimate apps offering some useful service or game, but they are really designed to collect your private data. Before downloading an app be sure to research the developers and only download apps from a verified source. Once you have downloaded a new app, be sure to review the security and privacy settings to make sure the app isn’t collecting more data than it needs to run.

Malware and Viruses – While phones may seem less vulnerable to malware and viruses than regular computers, they are just as susceptible. People may be more likely to click a link or install an app without double-checking it first than they are on their computer. This is because it is a smaller screen to read and people are often multi-tasking when they’re using their phone. Be sure to install anti-virus and anti-malware protection on your phone.

Smishing – Ever heard of smishing? It’s phishing via text message. If you’ve ever received a random text asking you to click some link, you’ve probably been smished. Unfortunately, one of the most common smishing scams is a fraudulent text claiming that your bank account has been compromised and they offer a phony phone number or link to click to resolve the issue. If you receive texts like that, be sure to check with your financial institution using the contact information on your credit card or saved in your account. Delete any texts from unknown sources and don’t engage with them.

Network Spoofing – Always know the network you’re connecting to. Cybercriminals often set up public networks that spoof a nearby location, such as “Airport WiFi.” If you need to connect to public WiFi while you’re travelling or just out, be sure to check with whatever establishment you’re in, what the guest WiFi network name is. Even public WiFi should have a check in where you click that you agree to terms before joining the network. Networks where you can just login without any kind of check-in screen should raise a red flag. Always make sure you’re logging into a legitimate network.

Unpatched Vulnerabilities – Out of date software and apps are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Be sure to check for and perform updates to your phone and all installed apps to keep your device secure.

On-The-Go Security Tips

Avoid Public WiFi – We can’t stress this enough. Public WiFi is not a good idea and a definite no-no if you’re doing anything that involves sensitive data like work files, banking, or medical information. It’s best to only access those things when you know you have a secure, private connection. If you do need to access sensitive data while you’re traveling be sure use a VPN (Virtual Private Network), which provides an encrypted connection.

Don’t Trust Public USB Charging Stations – Public USB charging stations are convenient, especially when you’re at the airport and you want to make sure your phone is charged up before you get on the plane, but don’t trust them! Those charging stations can be compromised with malware and you might be plugging your phone into a data collecting device. Use a regular outlet to charge your phone instead or purchase a portable battery-powered charger.

Download Your Materials Before You Leave – If there are documents or apps you know you’re going to need to access when you’re on the road, be sure to download them while you’re connected to your own network at home. That way you have them ready and you don’t have to worry about connecting to an unsecure network to get them.

Use Common Sense – The human factor is something we talk about a lot. Security of course starts with you. Be diligent, pay attention to what you’re accessing, report possible security breaches to the proper channels, and be sure to know who’s around you when you’re working in a public space.

Want to receive more security tips? Sign up for our Weekly Security Tips to receive a new tip in your email each week at www.stimulustech.com.

Nathan Whittacre is the president and CEO of Stimulus Technologies: (562) 283-6300.

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