Our dependence on mobile internet to navigate, communicate and express ourselves is opening the doors to hackers to steal our personal information. Smart phones are capable of storing large numbers of photos, videos, documents and information, which could leave an individual open to identity theft if the device fell into the wrong hands. In 2012, there were 20 billion downloads from the Apple app store. Criminals are targeting us through our love of apps and use of mobile Internet with viruses, phishing messages and Trojan horses, which is putting our personal data at risk.
If you are heavily reliant on your smart phone, there are three things which could disrupt your long term relationship.
- Physically losing your phone – we have all done it, and I’m sure you’d all agree how inconvenient it is; inputting contacts and setting up accounts is enough hassle, let alone getting a replacement handset.
- Hackers accessing your personal data – now something more to think about, are the details on your smart phone protected with a password; bank details, usernames, passwords stored on your device could help a criminal steal your identity.
- Compromised smart phone – the option to ‘link’ social networking sites is creating problems for individuals as hackers can access all their accounts by hacking one. Hackers are using a range of tactics to compromise our devices.
The risks explained:
Hackers attach viruses to files we download to compromise our devices so as to access personal data or cause inconvenience. Downloads from phones, text messages, Bluetooth transfers or the Internet can contain viruses.
Have you ever received a text message telling like this?
“Our records show you are eligible for £2,340 from a previous claim, call the number below to claim your money”
“IMPORTANT – We have noticed some unusual usage on your account. To check go to the website below or call the number”
These are examples of ‘phishing by phone’. Another tactic is a phone call, which usually prompts you to enter your account log in details before continuing. Calling the number or entering account details will compromise your personal information and make it easy for criminals to rack up large phone bills or steal your identity.
Trojan horses are attached to a download and can record personal details (e.g. credit card details you used to shop online), delete files from the device and harm the hosts computer system.
All of these tactics will access data stored on your device, which may help a criminal hack into other more lucrative accounts (banking) or build a profile he/she is able to use to set up accounts in your name.
How to secure your phone:
- Use a strong passcode to lock your phone and make sure the passcode prompts after a suitable time has lapsed.
- Be aware of the geotagging feature (attaching a geographical location tag to an online post, which gives viewers the exact location of your post) and know how to turn it off.
 Virus – a computer programme that is designed to replicate itself. It copies itself onto programmes on your computer, to create problems with the way the programme operates.
 Phishing messages – an attempt to steal personal information using text messaging
 Trojan horse – appears to perform a desirable function but instead they facilitate unauthorised access to a users’ computer system