Allegations that Amazon.com boss Jeff Bezos had his phone hacked by Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman have highlighted the safety risks that accompany smartphones.
If the news has heightened your concern for digital privacy, take the following measures to minimize the chances of your phone getting hacked.
Don’t “jailbreak” your phone and install dubious apps There is a whole range of risky apps outside the supported app stores operated by Apple, Google and Amazon that expose your device to hacking.
When people jailbreak their smart phones in order to download gaming apps or pirated movies from outside their app store there is a greater risk of getting hacked.
“That dramatically increases your risk for installing malicious apps,” according to Tim Erlin, a cyber security expert at Tripwire.
Even though breaking into smart phones have become increasingly difficult.
“Every single app you have runs in what’s called a sandbox. Basically, it’s isolated from all the other apps on the phone,” says Matthew Green, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University.
“So even if there’s a bug in one app … that could lead to something bad — some malware being installed that affects that app. But generally speaking, it won’t spread throughout your phone.”
Install all operating system updates
Social media platforms and messaging companies like Facebook and WhatsApp also are within the race against hacking and these companies have issued warnings also to spread awareness amongst its users.
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In 2018, there was a malicious video file vulnerability that was used to hack many smartphones; you can counter this by installing the latest updates on your smartphone and apps too.
“Keeping your phone updated is an important step in keeping it secure as well,” says Erlin.
“It’s important to install those updates when they’re available.”
Hence older devices are at greater risk, “It’s a choice you can make: If you don’t want to move to a newer phone, you want to accept that risk. Lots of people do, but it does put you at greater risk because you’re no longer receiving security updates,” says Erlin.
Beware of questionable attachments and links
We are often sent an email asking us to click on a link or download a file that usually contains malware, for smartphone hackers, it is sending a link via apps.
“If you think about the apps that you use most commonly, maybe it’s Facebook, maybe it’s Instagram, maybe it’s some other app where you have the capability to send and receive messages,” says Erlin.
“An example would be that in Instagram, you receive a link. Maybe it’s not a file — maybe it’s a link from someone you know or you follow that says, ‘Here, I made this for you,’ so you click on that link and it compromises your phone.”
Users should even be very careful in making a gift of passwords or tip like your financial details.
Protect yourself from SIM-swap attacks. Don’t use your cell phone as a way to verify identity
SIM-swap attacks are one the most difficult to pull off but we have seen a sudden rise in this type of hacking.
The hacker takes charge of the victim’s Smartphone number, they can trick the telecom company and claim they lost their phone and need to transfer the number.
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“That phone number is linked to all of the victim’s online accounts — their bank accounts,” states Samy Tarazi, a criminal investigator.
Hence without knowing any of your passwords a hacker can access your email account. “From there, he can reset passwords to any other service — banks, crypto currency … social media” says Tarazi.
“We highly recommend that people not use their cell phone number as a form of verification of identity.”
Be careful about public Wi-Fi when travelling abroad
We may not pay much attention to our Wi-Fi network but it is also a means used by hackers to break into your smartphone especially when travelling abroad because everyone wants to use Wi-Fi so as to avoid roaming charges.
“There’s still always an opportunity that somebody could check out the traffic going over the network. You should worry about that,” says Green.
“But really, hacking into your phone is getting much, much harder.”
But, he says, take care if you are trying to use a public network and it prompts you to try to to something suspicious. “Sometimes it’s download this app then use it to log in,” says Tarazi
“If it ever requires you to download something, definitely don’t do this.”
Growing usage of technology to try to to every little thing has exposed Smartphone users to the danger of hacking hence proper measures got to be taken to avoid this.