When even the world’s richest man can be ‘allegedly’ hacked, learning how to protect your smart phone from being hacked is essential to protecting your data.
It’s recently been rumored that the Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos has had his phone hacked after opening a WhatsApp video message from the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The video reportedly let hackers steal racy messages and pictures from his mobile. Which were then ‘allegedly’ used in a blackmail attempt.
How to Protect Your Phone from Hacking
So, in a world where we are reliant on our phones to store a lot of our personal data, how can you protect your phone and avoid losing control of your phone? These are just a few ways on how to protect your phone.
Don’t Open Videos From People You Don’t Know
It sounds like a simple one, but by opening a video, you could potentially give Hackers an easy way in and a way to gain control over your phone. One of the ways they do this is using a vulnerability called “buffer overflow”. Essentially, they flood your phone with too much data in a file, that then cracks open your device. The app is given too much information for it to handle. So, it basically gives up following logic and allows for malware to execute. At which point the hacker can then take the reins of your phone.
Don’t Assume You’re Secure, Just Because You’re Using an iPhone
You may not have heard of as many attacks on Apple computers and mobile devices. This is because there have been fewer, big hack attacks. But that doesn’t mean Apple is automatically more secure. Essentially it’s all down to numbers. Android has 3/4 of the global market, so obviously hackers will more likely go for that market. Don’t be disillusioned though, as Apple malware does exist so ensure you clean and protect your Apple Macs or iPhones, using the likes of CleanMyMac X.
Don’t Always Trust Text Messages
You may receive a text from a contact that you know, however, tread with caution. It’s very easy for hackers to spoof (or mimic) the name of senders, of text messages. These messages might try to trick you into calling a telephone number (at a premium rate). Or it could contain a link for you to click onto. So, make sure you check the spelling and grammar of the texts you receive. Also double-check any links you’re sent, ensuring they match an official website or domain.
Don’t Trust That The Person Calling You, Is Who They Say
iPhones are very clever nowadays and can even retrieve information from our emails to try to figure out who is calling you. This is a handy way that a malicious caller could fool us into believing that the number announced on screen is, in fact, our bank or internet service provider. All with the aim to collect your personal data, bank details, or to mislead you.
Make Sure Your Phone Is Up to Date
If you get a message from Android or Apple saying that your phone’s operating system needs an update, make sure you update the version your currently running. As the updates rolled out to users are usually as a result of vulnerability.
The same applies to updating your apps as these will contain security updates. Every app is a potential way for a cybercriminal to gain access to your phone. Especially if there is a hole they can sneak through.
Use a Secure Browser or Ad-blocker
A lot of malware is often installed through the likes of pop-ups. Installing ad-blockers or using a browser like Brave will stop ads and tracking by default, allowing you to take control of your online experience.
Securing Your Mobile Device with a PIN
Adding a pin will secure your private messages and financial information. But make sure you don’t make it an obvious number. Hackers will go through a list of the most commonly used combinations or try to figure out dates that may be personal to you, such as a birthday.
Use a Password Manager
Always use strong passwords for your online accounts, using password combinations that are not connected to you personally. A password manager such as LastPass can not only help you to remember these passwords but will also generate you strong secure passwords to replace any existing weak ones you may have.
Is iCloud Storage Safe?
Although the likes of iCloud are great for those wanting to gain more storage on their devices. They, (like most other things online), can be hacked. So just make sure you aren’t storing all your personal information on the web. This could include passport details, social security information or cryptocurrency private keys or recovery phrases. Not everything belongs online.
Turn off WIFI
A hacker can create an attack where they set up WIFI hotspots that your phone automatically connects to. This is known as a man in the middle attack. In this instance, a hacker taps the connection between your phone and services it uses, secretly siphoning off data such as usernames and passwords you enter into apps and transmit to computer servers.
Additionally, when you are connecting to public WIFIs such as Internet cafes or airports, connect using a VPN such as the likes of ExpressVPN. This will secure and encrypt your internet traffic.
Turn Off Bluetooth
Just like with wifi, don’t keep Bluetooth turned on all the time. When it is on, make sure it requires a PIN to connect.
Don’t Store All your Cash in the Bank Account Associated with Apple Pay
If someone takes your phone, they will have access to your bank, although the amounts are limited you still wouldn’t want someone taking your hard-earned money! Also, people can use a hidden payment terminal and charge money from your phone as they pass you by in the same way that has occurred with contactless cards in the past.
How to Protect Your Phone from Virus
Phones are just as vulnerable as laptops or PCs and usually contain more personal information too.
There is a lot of anti-viruses’ available for Andriod and iPhone such as the likes of Norton Mobile Security.
Download Apps Only From Official App Stores
Any apps on the Google Play Store for Android or the AppStore for iPhones go through certain checks to ensure they’re safe, unlike unofficial apps which often contain something like malicious like malware.
…And do your own diligence
Check the logo the apps name and the developers as some bad apps will inevitably make it through as the checks mentioned aren’t always that rigorous. In 2019, 42 apps on the Google Play store contained malware and had been downloaded 8 million times!
Is Whatsapp Secure?
Although WhatsApp declares that they provide end to end encryption and secure everything that you send, some features like Group Chats can potentially leak data. If you want a more secure messaging service try someone like Signal.
Think About Who You Are Giving Your Phone To
Letting your kids play Angry Birds is fine, but keep an eagle eye as they could unknowingly download an unofficial app or click onto a link on a spoof website.
How to Protect Your Mobile Number from Hacking
Hackers have a smart way of socially engineering access to your phone through something called SIM swapping. This is where they smooth-talk their way past a call centre worker to reassign your SIM card to ‘their’ number.
From there they can reset your accounts without you knowing plus, access your data. It’s worth regularly checking with your phone operator that your phone number is still assigned to you.
Don’t Get Your Phone Screen Repaired At Unofficial Outlets
Although the lure of cheaper repair prices at market stalls or stores are appealing, repairing your devices at Apple stores and official shops run by mobile phone network providers, such as EE, O2 or Virgin Mobile, are always the safest.
Louise created the Every Bit Helps YouTube channel back in 2017, after finding the process of buying Bitcoin difficult. Therefore, in an aim to help others, she hopes that her tutorials will make the process of buying, selling and storing crypto a lot easier for newbies in the future.
After spending 20 years working in London in cyber security, she left the corporate life after having her second child in 2018. Louise now travels the world with her two small children trying to make the most out of life.