We live in a world of digital interconnectivity. And, because of this, we enjoy the convenience of being able to access online accounts and share files across all of our devices. But, this state of being totally connected does make it easier for hackers to penetrate our online lives in total, as opposed to just parts of it.
Because of the threat of cyber-attacks, we know that we have to keep our computers up to date with anti-virus software. But, what about our phones? With almost 60% of global search queries coming from mobile devices, are smartphones an obvious point of entry for hackers? And, more importantly, are we leaving the door wide open?
To answer these questions, let’s look at each device individually.
Apple is quite upfront about the fact that iOS doesn’t need additional security because security is one of its major concerns. This means that, in addition to the company paying very close attention to the apps in its store, it protects its users from malicious apps on their devices as well.
Apple has adopted a ‘sandbox’ approach to the apps on iPhones. This means that the apps its users download are partitioned off on their phones. This way, any malicious apps that do make it through to the store are less likely to be able to affect iPhone users. The company likes to directly handle any issues arising from apps, as it did with 2016’s targeted iOS threat.
Because of this, anti-virus apps aren’t a necessity for iOS smartphones. In fact, you can’t even download apps that conduct thorough scans. So, if you have an iPhone, you’re safe with practical usage.
Unlike iOS, Android isn’t quite as concerned with which apps make it into its stores, which makes Android slightly less safe than iOS. With Android users at higher risk of downloading malicious apps, mobile anti-virus apps are quite important on this operating system.
Fortunately, Android devices don’t have a compatibility problem with anti-virus apps, and there are plenty of solutions for Android device security. The Google Play app store is full of quality anti-virus and anti-malware apps for Android. These range in price, but there are some effective apps for free.
A few years ago, Windows phones were among the safest on the market, being targeted the least by hackers. This was partly because these phones are less popular than Android and iOS smartphones, and partly because the operating system was different from that of Windows PCs.
Now, even though Windows 10 changed all that with a bold attempt at cross-device integration, Windows phones are still relatively secure. According to white-hat hacker, Steve Lord, Windows phones are the safest on the market.
That being said, with the Windows OS supporting a variety of anti-virus and anti-malware apps, it doesn’t hurt to enlist some added protection.
Mobile Security: Better Safe than Sorry
With the amount of mobile use in today’s world, it is no surprise that hackers are beginning to focus on mobile operating systems. So, despite the differing levels of security across these major operating systems, it is better to have professional security available.
Even if your OS isn’t necessarily supportive of anti-virus apps, such as in the case of iOS, it is advisable to have the support of online security services. And, if you’re ever in doubt over a particular app or link, err on the side of caution.
Computer hackers have done very well for themselves in the past by stealing online users’ personal information. And, with almost half of the global population now using smartphones, it is understandable that hackers’ collective focus is quickly shifting to mobile devices.
After all, the 44% of the world’s people using smartphones are essentially carrying around miniature computers.
So, with hackers now aggressively targeting smartphones, how do mobile device users make sure they are protected? Here are a few ways in which you can make your smartphone harder to hack:
How to Keep Your Smartphone Secure
1. Install an Anti-Virus App
As we mentioned in the first part of this look at mobile security, some phones tend to respond better to anti-virus apps than others. Apple feels that these apps undermine the inherent security of iOS phones, while Google Play offers a plethora of anti-virus apps for Android devices.
But, a good rule of thumb here is to choose the best security solutions possible for your device, and make sure to keep it updated.
2. Beware of Free Wi-Fi
While free Wi-Fi is great, and is a real life-saver if you’re low on mobile data, beware of public connections. The problem is that these networks are unprotected, which means that your smartphone is easily identifiable and, naturally, hackable.
3. Don’t Modify Your Phone
Device modification – referred to as rooting or jailbreaking – is popular amongst some users because it gives them more control over the phone’s capabilities. Essentially, using a modified device is a bit like using Windows as an administrator.
But, the problem with this is that apps downloaded to modified devices have more access to the operating system. So, malware is able to go much deeper and cause much more damage.
4. Browse with Care
We have been talking almost exclusively about malicious apps, but there are so many of websites that can compromise your smartphone’s security. So, in addition to avoiding apps from third-party providers, it is a good idea to stay away from links that seem suspicious.
5. Consider Encryption
Hackers don’t always opt for completely digital theft. Many find stealing personal information exceedingly easier when they have your smartphone in hand. After all, you might have your personal details saved on the phone, or on its removable memory card.
For this reason it makes a lot of sense to encrypt your phone. In this case, if it is stolen, retrieving your personal information becomes a great deal harder for the thief.
Use Common Sense for Mobile Security
You might find going to these lengths a touch extreme, but they’re worth it for the sake of protecting your personal details. And, if you don’t use all these tips, at least exercise caution when downloading apps and only visit trusted websites.
Or, if you find certain apps too enticing to deny, download a good antivirus. At the very worst, all you’ll sacrifice is a little bit of system performance.