How to protect your mobile phone from Cyber Scams

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

Xander SOC analyst at BIT Cyber Security Services UK
How to protect your mobile phones from Cyber Scams

How often do you consider the way in which you connect to the internet via your phone? Is your phone set to automatically connect to the nearest suitable Wi-Fi point? Do you look for free, open and password less Wi-Fi connections at every opportunity?

Why wouldn’t you, when they provide minimal effort to access the internet that’s often faster than your 4g signal. With this convenience, are you aware of the dangers of free and password-less Wi-Fi when you connect?

This article will look to de-mystify user mobile security and provide you with the knowledge and tools to live a more secure cyber-lifestyle with your phone.

Phone Security is incredibly important to us all now a days, as our phones run 24/7. In a study of 1,600 managers and professionals, Leslie Perlow, PhD, the Konosuke Matsushita professor of leadership at the Harvard Business School, found that:

70% said they check their smartphone within an hour of getting up

56% said they check our phone within an hour of going to sleep

48% said they check our phones over the weekend, including on Friday and Saturday nights

51% said they check continuously during vacation

44% said they would experience "a great deal of anxiety " if they lost their phone and couldn't replace it for a week.

Due to this, security for phones is now more important than ever, with hackers looking at mobile phones as easy targets, targeting those who aren’t aware of the ease they can access your phone. The trouble is, security is very laxed when it comes to phones and computers for everyday users, so having a basic knowledge of security would dramatically help protect your device, even if it is not connecting to free Wi-Fi.

There are many ways of gaining access to a phone through Wi-Fi and connecting to the internet over a wireless connection, is not wrong or completely unstable. In certain aspects, it is one of the safest and strongest way due to its encryption on the router it accesses to get you the data you demand. If you are connected to a router (routers are physical devices that join multiple wired or wireless networks together) that has low encryption or completely open (Free Wi-Fi) then it becomes a hazard. When you are on free Wi-Fi then anyone with the technical tools and knowledge can see everything you are doing on your phone without looking at your phone physically. To stop this (as best practice) turn off your Wi-Fi when you leave a trusted area such as your house. If you need to connect to Wi-Fi urgently when your away from your own home or another trusted area, download a VPN which encrypts everything you do to stop attackers from seeing what you are doing on your phone.

Top tips

· Turn off your phones Wi-fi when outside

· If urgently needed use a VPN to encrypt what you’re doing

Difference between http and https
http vs https

Another way of staying safe is not going on an unsecure website. This is shown with http before the website instead of https (the 's' in https stands for secure, without HTTPS, any data passed is insecure). This is a tip for everything connected to the internet in anyway as many malicious files can be transferred over to your device, giving the attacker access to the phone. There are browsers such as brave that upgrade any insecure websites to a secure version, but these browsers also stop scripts and cookies from running which may cause the site to crash or not load for you.

Top tips

· Avoid using http sites and stay on https

· Use a browser that ‘upgrades’ the site to a secure version

If your phone does have a virus or a piece of malware downloaded, it is best to use the built-in virus protection scanner, to s scan the whole phone and delete anything malicious. If you are concerned you have a computer virus or it is best to do the scan every week in case of anything accessing the phone over that week. Every smart phone will have virus protection, so there is no need to install a third-party version.

Top tips

· Use the Malware Scan every week to keep up to date on your phone

· Don’t install third-party versions

One that seems incredibly simple, but a lot of people unfortunately don’t abide by, keeping your password to yourself. It is the very first rule for anything with privacy and yet people give out their password to people they ‘trust’. Once that password is known by someone else, it should be immediately changed. This is the same for biometric authentication on phones. No it can’t be known by someone, but they can have their own biometric authentication on the phone giving them access as well.

Top tips

· Keep passwords to yourself

· If a password is known by someone else change it as soon as you get the chance.

When installing apps, a lot of them ask for permissions of some kind i.e. permission to phone and contacts or permission to location. A lot of users accept it without reading it and this is bad! When these types of prompts appear, it is asking for info certain things it asks for it doesn’t need, it’s just unnecessary info being collected.

Top tips

· Don't trust prompts, read them and look at what they are asking you to share

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