In our fast-paced, increasingly digital world, more data is being shared and transferred than ever before. As we rely more and more on our digital devices, we must be aware of the risks that come with increased connectivity and take the necessary steps to help keep our information secure.
In the U.S. last year, there were up to 1,000 mobile malware attacks happening every hour. It’s no coincidence that cyber criminals are focusing their efforts and honing their skills on mobile attacks – cyber criminals are aware that mobile devices have become an extension of ourselves and are a high-value target. While you may not be able to make yourself completely immune to attack, there are many technologies and features on your mobile and other devices to help minimize risk.
Technologies to Turn On
Many of the technology features available right at our fingertips can help improve our security. To add an extra layer of protection to your accounts, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible. This can take a variety of forms – enabling 2FA on an online banking account, for example, may send an additional code to your phone. If someone discovers your password, they won’t be able to access anything unless they also have your smartphone. 2FA may also take the shape of an additional security question, or entering a unique pin code, before you are able to access your account.
Especially when you’re traveling, it’s worth creating and connecting to a virtual private network (VPN). Wi-Fi options can be limited on vacation, and connecting to public Wi-Fi, which transmits data in cleartext, could allow a remote attacker to identify and extract information. With a VPN, if you need to access sensitive information, your IP address and personal details will remain hidden. VPN connections are encrypted, so even if an attacker captures the traffic, they will only see a handful of indecipherable characters.
While using unique, strong, passwords for your accounts is always recommended, there are additional steps to take to up your security. Strengthen your online accounts by utilizing authentication tools, such as biometrics or security keys, Another technique is to put a PIN lock on your SIM card, which prevents anyone from using your SIM on a different phone. If you were to lose your phone, these all provide an extra layer of security. Invest some time in learning the privacy and password settings of your phone to make sure you’re taking full advantage of these features.
At the rate technology is evolving, it can be difficult to stay on top of threats. Consider enlisting the help of a monitoring service to notify you if something is awry with your monitored personal information. These notifications empower you to respond quickly to a potential identity theft event so that you can minimize your risk.
Technologies to Turn Off
While new technology strives to make our lives easier and more convenient, sometimes having specific features “on” can contribute to a more insecure device. Particularly on our smartphones, there are several settings that may be worth disabling to minimize the risk of attack. For example, consider turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you’re not using them. If these features are on, they will constantly be searching for networks and devices to connect to in the area. For networks that span wider spaces, your movements could be tracked. Similarly, turning off your phone’s “Location” function will limit others from tracking the location of your phone. Keep in mind that you can always turn this feature back on if you need to use GPS. Turning off the “Location” function will also help with both your social media and SMS messaging because potential criminals won’t be alerted to your whereabouts. You might not think about risks associated with a phone’s geotagging and location functions, but they could be used for malicious purposes.
As cyber criminals continue to target mobile devices, it’s on all of us to ensure we’re taking the necessary steps to improve our security. Do you have a technology feature or best practice that helps you stay secure? Join the conversation – get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.