More and more, we use our phones to do just about everything computers can. Even though our phones are smaller than our computers, browsing can be just as risky; four major risks associated with smartphones are public Wi-Fi connections, smishing, malicious apps and unsecured mobile banking.
Public Wi-fi Connections
One of the benefits of owning a smartphone is their ability to browse the internet. When phones connect to a public Wi-Fi network, they face the same risks as a laptop would. Browsing on your phone can actually be even more risky, as attackers can gain access to unencrypted data – sites you’ve accessed, emails you’ve sent. PC World provides screenshots in an article showing how much information an attacker could access on a Wi-Fi hotspot.
To avoid unnecessary risks, you can set your phone to never automatically connect to Wi-Fi. Learn more about wireless safety from Digital Tattoo here.
Smishing is defined as sending a malicious link via a text. These are often scams saying you’ve ‘won a contest’ (or some such) and clicking causes identity-stealing software to be installed on your phone.
With the rise of smartphones came a boom of app development. Snake was replaced by Temple Run and Angry Birds. Where once you had only one option to send SMS, now their are countless messaging applications to choose from. Smartphone applications can be a lot of fun but be wary as not all are safe to download and use. USA Today cites a Cloudmark survey that concluded “nearly one in five mobile phone users have experienced some type of security threat with their device.” According to security company F-Secure’s 2012 Mobile Threat Report, 3069 malicious Android application package files have been detected in the first 3 month period of 2012. Dangerous apps have been on the rise, as the same quarter of 2011 recorded just 139 malicious apps.
Unsecured Mobile Banking
Mobile banking apps are become increasingly popular due to the convenience of carrying around all of your financial information in your pocket. This applications are often heavily encrypted which makes hacking into them difficult. However, if the smartphone is lost or stolen this information can be accessed. The Wells Fargo banking app stores critical information on the phone in plain text. It is important to remember that losing your smartphone can be as disastrous as losing your credit card, laptop and social security card all at once!
How much personal information is stored on your phone? Sure, losing your phone would be disastrous because you’ll have lost your primary communication tool and maybe some photographs and contacts. But have you also considered the other dangers of losing your phone?
Today, we’re using our phones like we use computers: to check email, download applications, connect to WiFi networks, update our social media, and to do our banking. To complete these and other tasks, our phones store lots of personal information that can be accessed directly through your phone and even remotely.
An easy way to prevent someone else from gaining access to the information in your phone is to use a password that locks your phone after a certain amount of time. You might not get your phone back, but at least your information will be safe.
But your phone doesn’t even need to leave your person to become compromised. Being aware of the following threats can help keep you safe:
- Be cautious when using insecure WiFi networks. They can put your personal information at risk.
- Downloading disreputable applications can compromise your personal information. But it’s a good idea to even monitor what information credible applications are asking to share.
- Your Bluetooth connection can make you vulnerable to remote attacks. Turning it off in public places will help keep you safe.
- Stay current with your phones security updates.
- Clickjack Attack – The Hidden Threat Right in Front of You | TroyHunt.com (2013)
- A Primer on Mobile Privacy and Security | University of Toronto (2015)
- Privacy and Data Management on Mobile Devices | Pew Research Center (2012)
- Keep Your Phone Safe | Consumer Reports (2013)
- 10 Tips to Make Your Phone More Secure | Tech Radar (2014)
- Malicious Apps in Google Play | ArtsTechnica.com (2016)
- Mobile Banking on Unsecure Wireless Networks (2013)
- Open Whisper Systems
The Digital Tattoo Project encourages critical discussion on topics surrounding digital citizenship and online identity. There are no correct answers and every person will view these topics from a different perspective. Be sure to complete the previous sections before answering the questions.
- Are you cautious about story personal data on your cellphone?
- Do you consider your online privacy more when using your cellphone or your computer?