Mobile devices have gone from a novelty option to being a huge part of our everyday lives. Less like phones and more like computers, we now use our smartphones and tablets for everything from gaming and surfing the net, to work & money management. No matter what we use our mobile devices for, the question we should all ask ourselves is – How secure are they?
Chuck Bokath, Senior Engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, recently gave an insight into the state of mobile security. Mr Bokath’s line of work involves exposing security flaws in various mobile devices/operating systems. He summarised that “Most people have no idea how vulnerable they are when they use their [mobiles].”
So, how on earth do you protect yourself from such an attack from these impetuous individuals? There are a few simple steps you can take to save yourself from such an impetuous individual from wreaking havoc upon your beloved mobile devices.
Don’t download from third-party sources, stick to the trust-worthy vendors that created your operating system. They gave you the App-Store, Android Market etc for a good reason.
Check out the permissions an application requests before granting them a download. Why would your shiny new calculator app want to make phone calls, connect to the net or record audio? Apple’s AppStore doesn’t disclose the permissions required by an app due to the very closed nature and vetting procedures every app submitted to the AppStore goes through.
Don’t be enticed by the free unofficial version of a popular application. They are piggybacking the name of a popular brand for a reason.
Download an anti-virus app from trusted vendors like Lookout, Norton, McAfee and AVG. Despite the fact that these security companies will always being playing catchup, they do know what they are doing.
Stick to the 3G network rather than use public Wi-Fi. These hotspots are a haven for hackers to hijack. They often introduce a ‘login screen’ which proceeds to ask for vital information. Don’t do it, it’s not worth it, stay safe.
Ignore those ‘Provision’ settings messages from your carrier. They may not be from your carrier. Your best option is to phone your mobile network personally and verify that it was them that sent you that strange message.
The majority of folks have a contract with their carrier rather than opt for a prepaid service. This in itself is dangerous as you details will obviously be on file somewhere, sometime. With a prepaid service the activation data can take several months to update on the various servers where your information is being stored. Using up your credit and then disposing of the SIM card can save you the huge headache that comes with a malware attack.
Look for signs of infection. These can materialize in a number of ways such as greatly decreased battery life, delayed email and SMS receipts and a sluggish internet experience when browsing.