At present, smartphone technology has reached an advanced stage. We are using user-friendly smartphones which have rich features such as fingerprint screen lock, heart rate monitors, rear and duo cameras, and IR Blaster among many others. The simplicity in operation means that it is also easy for people with ulterior motives to bypass the security protocols in a smartphone.
After your phone has been hacked, this exposes all your other devices in the event they were connected. It is possible for malware to spread through a network from your hacked smartphone to your computer or tablet.
This makes you vulnerable to malicious attacks including man-in-the-middle attack, drive-by downloads, browser exploits, viruses and trojans, and spyware. Below, we closely examine each one of these and measures you can take to prevent falling a victim.
1. Man-in-the-Middle Attack
A man-in-the-middle attack gains unauthorised access to information between two parties. This can be in the form of emails appearing to come from an authentic source, for instance, your smartphone’s apps, asking for personal information. The fake apps are used to collect sensitive information and transmit the same to a hacker. There are some protective measures for this risk. So, it’s recommended to download only those apps which are Google Play Protected.
Firstly, never connect your smartphone directly to public Wi-Fi routers. If you’re an Android user, look for a VPN for Android smartphones (NordVPN is a good choice) to encrypt its internet connection when using public Wi-Fi. Encryption ensures end-to-end data protection for all your credit information and passwords.
Secondly, always ensure to have HTTPS in the URL bar for all the websites you visit. The “S” means that the site is secure.
Thirdly, always keep your smartphone’s security software updated to help detect malware. You should also be on the lookout for phishing attacks requesting you to have your password and login information updated by clicking on the links provided in emails.
Finally, secure your home Wi-Fi network by updating usernames and passwords on all the connected devices including your smartphone.
2. Malware and Spyware
Malware or mobile adware is malicious software that can be secretly installed in your smartphone to collect data that will enable a hacker to target you with ads and spy on you. All your internet usage information is transmitted to a third party who then sells it to companies who in turn bombard you with advertisements.
Your contact information and location can also be accessed using spyware, thus, exposing everyone in your list as well. You can avoid becoming a target for mobile adware by installing internet security on your smartphone from trusted providers. You should also ensure that your smartphone’s internet security is up to date.
The best way to prevent your smartphone from spyware is to install an anti-spy software and configure it to check for updates. Even though an antivirus software can identify some malware on your smartphone, it is incapable of detecting some spyware.
3. Viruses, Worms, and Trojans
Your smartphone can also be attacked by trojans and viruses. This kind of malware attach themselves to legitimate programs and can intercept your device and leak crucial personal information including bank account information.
Additionally, viruses and trojans can be used to sign up to premium text message services which drain your credit. Unfortunately, unlike computers, most mobile phones lack firewall protection at the time of sale, and it is upon a user to install.
A firewall provides online privacy by blocking malicious attacks and should never be turned off. You can learn more about mobile malware through the Wikipedia article.
4. Drive-by Downloads
Drive-by downloads are malicious software installed in your smartphone without your permission. This can happen when you visit some websites or open emails which load files into your smartphone.
Drive-by downloads can include malware software such as bots which can index a search engine to gain unlimited control over your smartphone. Bots are made worse by their ability to self-propagate and can form a botnet among all the devices connected to your smartphone.
Bots can easily go unnoticed in your smartphone since they hide under the “shadows “ of a smartphone from where they can open an infect device’s back doors to other malicious software.
However, some solutions to drive-by downloads exist. Avoid using your smartphone to transfer data using cables on a computer as this might leave you exposed. Secondly, use long and complex passwords on your smartphone. Secure passwords should contain numerals and alphabets.
Additionally, never share passwords on multiple programs. Thirdly, ensure your smartphone’s software is updated and always check and respond to system updates since bot malware can exploit gaps in outdated software. Finally, always ensure to download apps from official app stores since every app has been vetted.
5. Browser exploits
Browser exploits capitalize on your smartphone’s security flaws that originate from its manufacture. Hackers use these gaps to gain unauthorized entry into your phone’s software. These attacks cause unexpected behavior in your phone including change of homepage without your permission or pop up ads on the search page when the phone is awake.
You can prevent falling victim to browser exploits by installing the latest security patches and software patches. Secondly, always ensure to install the latest updates for your software for enhanced online safety. Finally, refrain from opening attachments from unfamiliar email addresses. You can learn how intruders can trouble you via email attachments here.