Wednesday, 26 March 2014

How to stop your smartphone from getting hacked

As soon as our mobile phones became smartphones, we began to rely on them to help run our lives. Because they are so convenient, we are more likely to store personal information on them so we can easily connect with friends, buy apps, do our banking and conduct internet shopping on the go, but their convenience is also their weakness.

The more information we put on our mobile devices, the more we are exposed to security threats. We have been trained to make our PCs and laptops secure, but are generally more careless about protecting our mobile phones.

''A phone used to be just a device to make and receive calls, but today we have all our social-network contacts, photos and other personally identifiable information on it,

Android phones are popular hacker targets, .''Cybercriminals take advantage of vulnerabilities in the operating system.''

Malicious software stored on an app is one way to compromise a phone, 

Some apps take private information and the consumer doesn't realise it happens. Many of these apps are free - for example, games.''

Mobile malware threats grew at a rate of 614 per cent from March 2012 to March 2013, according to a report by computer networking

more than 276,000 apps  labels malicious.

Free apps that request or gain access to account information nearly doubled from October 2012 to May 2013

Requesting or gaining account access does not make an app malware - it could be legitimate - but you are giving up account information and/or access, so you need to be sure you understand why an app wants access. Consumers need to be aware that apps can carry malware.

Mobile devices out of the box often do not start from a strong position of security,

'When people get a new device, the first thing they do is download apps, but they don't do the boring stuff, like install an up-to-date operating system

''If people upgrade the operating system, they will get rid of 75 per cent of the risk, and it's free.

From June 2013, only 4 per cent of Android phones were running the latest version of the relevant operating system

10 tips to help secure your phone

1. Install an up-to-date operating system and mobile security software from, for example, Sophos, Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky, Trend Micro, AVG.
2. Have a front password lock.
3. Before downloading, read reviews and ratings of apps to besure they are respected.
4. Install security updates from apps.
5. Read all permission requests from apps.
6. Set effective passwords for banking apps and change them regularly.
7. Have a healthy dose of scepticism if things are offered for free but require you to provide personal details.
8. Look at URLs carefully, as it is harder to decipher whether a site looks legitimate on the smaller-sized phone screen.
9. Remotely lock or wipe lost or stolen devices. Record the 15-digit IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identification) number of your mobile phone. It is under the battery and can befound on most handsets by pressing *#06#. IMEI blocking prevents a mobile phone from being used with any SIM on any Australian network.
10. Don't text or email sensitive information when using a public or free wi-fi access point, for it may allow your internet traffic tobe intercepted.

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