The threat in your pocket

As users of computers and laptops, we are accustomed to the many rules and security policies for our work devices to keep them safe from bugs and phishing scams. Our personal mobile devices are a different story. These devices fit in a pocket, are with us all the time, and allow us to access everything with the touch of a finger.

Phones and tablets are accepted as our personal property. We surf the internet, purchase groceries, pay bills, and share memes. We are lulled into believing these devices are exempt from cyber attacks and viruses because most news reports focus primarily on how they affect personal computers and laptops. However, the reality is that even though phones and tablets may seem more secure, they are actually a window to our personal information and are often targeted by attackers.

Threat to our privacy

Applications we download can collect distinctive information about the device and its owner. While some of the applications ask for permission, there are a huge number of applications that don’t.

Mobile malware

Infected websites, used through traditional phishing emails or text messages (SMS), infect mobile devices with malicious codes that can be executed on your mobile device. In addition to collecting and stealing information, these malicious codes can also perform cryptocurrency mining. This uses computing power and internet connection which causes performance degradation, increasing internet usage, and very short battery life.

Some malicious codes allow attackers access to the mobile device. Personal and private information can be collected or integrated devices can listen in on phone conversations, take pictures, or read and send messages to your contacts. In general, the attacker controls the mobile device and can do whatever they want. If the mobile device is used for business, the attacker can access corporate data and open a back door to access critical or sensitive data.

Scam calls and texts

Device owners can be scared or coerced into sharing personal or organizational information through a phone call or text. Scammers will try to threaten owners, using names of government agencies and law enforcement. Friends are the most common subject in such an attack while grandchildren are mainly used to steal money from elderly people.

Home security

We monitor our homes through internet-based technology on our mobile devices. If an attacker has control of our mobile device, they can manipulate anything in the home connected to that device. Attackers can unlock doors, disable security, and watch your home and family through your cameras. Recommended safeguards are to use approved applications, check permissions before installing, and use a two-way authentication log in methods.

These are just a few of the risks we take when we use our interconnected mobile devices – devices that help us in our everyday lives. As mobile device owners, we should be more careful and follow the recommended safeguards. Make sure applications are authentic from approved providers and when installing, check the permissions. If the application is asking for additional, unnecessary access to private information, simply do not install or change the permissions if it is possible.

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