Why Smartphone Security Should Be a Priority in 2021
With the ability to do dozens of tasks, smartphones have made our life a lot easier.
11:55 29 December 2020
But as we start to rely more on these tiny devices, their security also assumes even greater significance. A smartphone presents a window in the private world of its user – your images, contact details, sensitive data like social security or bank account details, account passwords and more.
Anybody who gains access to the personal data stored on your smartphone can wreak havoc – financial fraud, identity theft, violation of privacy, business data loss, the potential headaches that can arise from such a situation is quite wide and varied indeed! There are several other reasons why mobile security should be a priority in 2021.
Mobile security is different from PC security
Decades of PC use has conditioned us to consider viruses and malware as the main threat online. While malware is certainly a danger to consider as a smartphone owner, it is far from the biggest one. Smartphones are quite different from PCs in this regard.
For instance, most of the apps you use are sourced from your OS app store – and both Google and Apple do a fair job of checking apps for security flaws and malware infections. On the PC, there are many other ways in which you can get the software. And both iOS and Android have excellent built-in protection against viruses.
This is why anti-virus software is less popular on mobile than the Windows PC platform. On smartphones, the biggest security vulnerability comes from your actions and online behaviour. And there are several big mistakes in this category.
Using unverified software sources
Downloading and installing apps from third-party sources is a potent security threat to smartphones. By default, you can only install apps from one authorized source – the Play Store or App Store, depending on whether you have an Android or iPhone.
While the iPhone is pretty strict about this rule, Android does have an option to enable software from third-party sources, but at your own risk. And there is a considerable risk of getting your phone infected with malware if you install from unverified sources online.
The solution to this risk is extremely simple and straightforward – only use apps that have been verified by your phone OS provider – either Google or Apple. The stores have hundreds of thousands of secure apps and games anyway. Chances are you will find something that fits your needs there.
Failing to update installed software
These days, most software publishers make it a point to provide regular security updates or patches. The most important of these come from the OS provider itself – Android and iOS constantly receive security patches that neutralize all newly discovered security flaws and vulnerabilities.
In addition, most individual apps also get these updates from time to time. Many users either ignore or postpone these updates. This is yet another avoidable security threat – smartphones that use outdated OS or apps are easy targets for malicious software and even hackers. All you need to do is ensure that all apps and the OS get the patches and updates on time.
Poor password management
There is no easy way around this one – keeping tabs on all your passwords is no easy task. These days, we have multiple accounts for myriad reasons – social media profiles, email, streaming sites, gaming services, and online casino accounts.
With so many different account names and passwords, folks often make the mistake of using the same password over and over. Or they use familiar names or dates to make it easier to remember. And many even make the mistake of storing them on easily accessible files on their PC or smartphone.
Always try to keep your passwords unique and secure, using a combination of random letters, symbols and words. And keep these stored offline and separately if possible – for instance, as you are more than likely to have different accounts for playing at multiple online casinos, write their passwords down, instead of storing them on your phone for maximum security.
Or else, if you want to spare yourself the hassle of manually storing passwords in a diary somewhere, you can even consider a software option. There are many secure password managers available in the market, including free options.
Unsafe online behavior on smartphones
You have to be extra careful when opening messages or emails on a smartphone. Research indicates that users are less careful on devices with smaller screens in these instances. At a glance, the shortened title on an SMS or mail may seem like it is from a legitimate source, like your bank.
But often, these are phishing attempts by smart criminals. By posing as a legitimate service provider, they can easily steal your passwords and other sensitive information. Always be wary of any message asking for confidential information online. Constant vigilance is the only defence against these kinds of security threats.
Clicking on unsafe links on certain sites or social media platforms can also lead to sophisticated phishing or social engineering attacks on your smartphones. Sadly, no amount of advanced anti-malware apps can save you from this threat. All you need to do is avoid visiting potentially unsafe or shady sites on your mobile if at all possible.
Thanks to COVID, we are far more dependent on online services for our daily needs. And many of us use smartphones a lot more during lockdowns, for everything from gaming to watching shows or ordering essentials online. With increased usage, smartphone security has become more important than ever before.