Cell phones are an integral part of our lives today. Between everyday social media browsing, ordering food online, zoom calls, internet banking, and other such modes of staying connected with the world, we often forget the fact that our smartphones hold plenty of sensitive data and personal information that you wouldn’t want to be compromised. Hackers are advancing at the same pace, or perhaps a step ahead, as technological expansion.
There are many ways a hacker can gain access to sensitive media or other files on your phone. Password hacking, software hacking, voicemail, and live conversation intrusion, and such other opportunistic hackers can wreak havoc if they gain access to your bank details or confidential emails or deletion of data.
Smartphone hacking is not exclusively a threat for celebrities or VIPs anymore, cybercrime is an actual peril of this day and age for everyone who owns a cell phone. Taking your online security seriously can save you from unwanted distress. Here are some of the measures you can take to prevent phone-hacking and protect your cell phone in general.
Install apps only from reputable and trusted sellers after thoroughly going through the reviews and ratings. Authentic sources of downloading any application are none other than Google Play Store for Android or Apple App Store for IOS devices. Beware of “updates” or apps from non-official app stores as they pose a great security risk.
Google does not get apps on it as strictly as Apple, hence Android users need to be careful. It is best to read reviews from CNET, Wired or Consumer Reports, and research app publishers before you download any third-party apps. Scan and run all the files with an anti malware or antivirus program before downloading. Moreover, always check your app permissions! Apps request access to location, email, camera, etc. allow it only if the permission request is relevant to the app’s purpose.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi or get VPN
The favorite thing to exploit for hackers is an insecure connection! They can steal or eavesdrop on data and sensitive information from connected devices and manipulate them. You can avoid this kind of man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks simply by using your cellular network data instead of public Wi-Fi in malls, airports, cafes, shops, etc. When using a mobile hotspot, keep it password protected at all times. If you don’t have abundant cellular data and have no other choice than to use public Wi-Fi, you can reduce the risks by installing a VPN on your Android device or iPhone.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) passes web traffic through an encrypted private channel making sure it’s free from any intruders. This is a great help because even if the connection is broken and intercepted, they won’t be able to interpret, read or modify anything as it’s in encrypted form. There are many inexpensive or free VPN service providers, get one and simply turn it on when using public Wi-Fi.
Keep your OS Up-To-Date
Regular patching and updates help in preventing phone hacking and keeps all apps and operating systems secure. Make sure you install all the latest updates when they’re available. Updates are not only for enhancing the features or appearances of an application, they serve a bigger purpose.
Device manufacturers and Software publishers patch security holes and fix bugs in their software with updates. An unpatched software attracts hackers with numerous security vulnerabilities, and this is why it’s almost crucial to install all the updates on your cell phones as soon as they are available.
Get the Necessary Tools
Anti-malware and antivirus software are not dedicated to computers and laptops only, your cell phone needs them just as much. Visiting malware-loaded websites can infect your mobile with different types of malware like trojan horses, viruses, worms, etc., or attachments, apps or malicious emails would do the damage.
This is why security software is a must-have! Besides timely detection and removal of malware, they will also warn you when you visit a shady website or download a malicious app. Some of it can get downloaded on your phone unnoticeably.
Getting a good security program will help you better protect your phone. Get a freemium security service where the basic service you get is free and if you sense that you need tighter security, you can always upgrade easily to access more features from the commercial paid service.
Remote Locking and Tracking settings
You might think you’re good to go after you’ve secured your phone with a multi-digit passcode, a complicated pattern, or fingerprint/face recognition. This can protect your phone to some extent if your phone gets stolen or you lose it, but hackers have many tricks up their sleeves to bypass your phone’s initial security and misuse your data.
This is why you need to remotely lock your device with features like Find my Device or remote lock. Install these apps if they’re not already there on your phone and register your mobile on it. These apps allow you to lock your phone entirely or erase all the data and memory from the phone remotely in case of theft so that no one can misuse it. This is mainly why it is advised to create regular backups of important data.
Don’t use USB charging points
Running out of battery when on the go is very common, especially for iPhone users. It might seem a little too much to some, but you might be compromising your security simply by plugging your device in with a USB charging station.
This is called “juice hacking” amongst experts, it happens when hackers access data on phones with such practices and copy files or put malicious software on the phone they’re into. All they need is 60 seconds to secretly exploit your sensitive data. Getting a USB data blocker between the charging port and your device can help against risking it with malware or you can always carry a sufficiently charged power bank with you to avoid such issues altogether.