Much like cyber-attacks on computers left us with a sense of impending doom back in the good old days; smartphones are also coming into the spotlight for their security risks. Are these risks real however, or have antivirus software providers recognised the big potential market opportunity for smartphone protection?
Even more importantly, if there are risks to worry about, what are they and what can you do about them? Before you start to panic, the good news is that just like you take basic precautions to keep your computer safe, you can take a few simple steps to keep your phone safe too.
How to Improve Smartphone Security
From social media viruses spread in links, to scary stories about applications that are able to access your phone’s camera and GPS to spy on everything you do, there are many reports on current smartphone threats. The following tips will help protect your phone against common risks, thereby reducing the damage that could be done if your phone was compromised.
- Be very aware of scams and phishing attempts. Hopefully at this point in our technological progress, you do not click on suspicious links in your email or social media streams. The same logic applies with your phone too. You may be stressing about that Facebook messaging you got about ‘wild photos’ or ‘crazy video’ that featured you as the star, but you will stress far more if you click that dodgy link and release a nasty virus or worse.
- Shop for applications carefully. Even Google Play and iTunes have been victim to fake applications that look almost like the real thing. While they can remove fake apps when they are reported, it is your call to make 100% sure that the app is legit. If you spot any irregularities, or there are any reviews mentioning that it is not real, do not download it.
- Download and install applications even more carefully. Any app that requires access to your phone logs, contacts (WhatsApp aside, which uses your phonebook to send messages) or any other settings that is has no business accessing should not be downloaded, let alone installed. Make sure you read through the requirements before you hit that download button, and find a safer alternative if it seems a bit fishy.
- Install a good, trusted antivirus programme. There are many tools that are dedicated to mobile security, which can be far more effective than ones that cross over between PC and mobile. Do some research to find apps or software that has a good rating, good user feedback and good reviews from outside testers too.
- Approach mobile banking with caution. These apps are becoming more popular across the world, offering handy features that allow you to make purchases on the go. The risk with these apps is that confidential information is required to use them, which poses a bit of a threat to your security (not to mention your bank account).
You may also want to be careful when logging on at WiFi spots too – fake networks have scammed more than a few users in recent years with their realistic look. As a general rule of thumb, an authorised WiFi spot should be safer than one that does not advertise, but somehow seems to have a network pop up.
With these basic precautions however, you can keep your phone safe and enjoy all the convenience and features that have made smartphones an essential part of our daily lives.