Among the technologies that revolutionized the industry, Smartphones are one of the most important advancements that changed the way we access the Internet. Suddenly, Internet access travels with you, and you can message a friend, do online shopping, or post beautiful images to social media wherever your phone is. According to Statista, the Smartphone user base grew to 3.5 billion over the last five years, almost half of the world’s population.
However, global use of Smartphones poses cybersecurity challenges, because cybercriminals are shifting their focus to devices that, in comparison to PCs, have weaker security measurements. In this article, we’re presenting the most popular methods to steal data from your phone and give hints on how to protect yourself from them.
Credential Stuffing attack
Earlier this year an American computer and network security company RSA released a threat report, outlining a surge in credential stuffing attacks. Even though easy to execute, these attacks are dangerous and can result in financial losses.
Credential stuffing attack is when a cybercriminal obtains a leaked username-password combination from one service (for example Yahoo mail leak), and tries on a different service (for instance Disney+) in hopes that the same credentials were used. In case of success, cybercriminal takes over users account and, usually, sells it on the black market.
These attacks rely on the same username-password reuse and are easily prevented by using a password manager like NordPass. This way, you can have different complex passwords for each service you use. Moreover, it’s best not to have the same username, and you can use their username generator that will check username availability on Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest and Vimeo.
Data Leaks on public Wi-Fi
What most cyberattacks have in common is that they’re after user-data. Be it banking credentials, user meta-data, browsing history – all can be used and sold to your disadvantage. Smartphone users like to connect to public Wi-Fi access instead of using mobile data – a great way to save some money. But don’t do it without proper security, because public Wi-Fi networks are known for weak safety measurements.
There are many Wi-Fi exploits, such as Evil Twin or MITM attacks, that spy on user online activities while connected to an infected Wi-Fi spot. That’s why it’s crucial not to type your passwords and banking details while on them – this information can easily leak and your bank account emptied in minutes.
VPNs are the number one software for public Wi-Fi safety. A VPN applies additional encryption to all of your data-flow, leaving it undecipherable to the attacker. Furthermore, VPN allows you to change your IP address, which prevents location data leaks. Giving away information when you’re away from home might be risky on occasions. When choosing a VPN for a mobile, make sure it supports WireGuard protocol, which is way faster and saves battery life.
Malware, spyware, and viruses
Viruses are one of the first cyber threats that are still haunting the computer industry. There’s also a shift towards the Smartphone industry, especially spyware because Smartphones are charged up 24/7 and can give way more data than PCs. Furthermore, these malicious Apps can be downloaded from Google Play or Apple Store disguised as other, neutral services.
A sophisticated virus and malware detection software is enough to defend against most malicious Apps and will alert you if you’re downloading one, or some App is trying to get access to information it shouldn’t have access to. Back in the days, mobile AntiViruses required a lot of resources and made most Smartphones work slower. However, this is not the issue anymore, and services like Norton mobile security, Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, or McAfee mobile security are well suited for your needs.
Phishing is another popular method to grab user data. A most common practice is to send an email asking for confidential data. The trick is to pretend the email comes from a trusted source; for example, your bank is requesting some validation. But beware, in it, you may find links to pages that are infected with malware, and sometimes only clicking on the link is enough to get your device infected.
When it comes to phishing, your own knowledge is the first line of defence. Do not click on suspicious links, don’t answer emails with your confidential data, and always double-check the URL of the web-page you’re about to log in to. AntiVirus, VPN, and a suitable password manager will do the rest.
This list is by no means extensive, but a solid start to protect your Smartphone from cybercriminals looking for an easy data-grab.