Protecting Your Devices in an Age of Cyber Crime

Cyber crime is something that has been dominating headlines over the last 12 months having affected corporations such as Facebook, Uber and T-Mobile. It is estimated that cyber crime drains $600 billion per year from the global economy and companies like Qinetiq have stepped up their effort to recruit more cyber security experts to combat the threat. However, cyber crime doesn’t just affect businesses; it’s something that can affect ordinary people too. After all, we use our smartphones for everything from shopping to work emails, yet we do not always pay attention to the ways in which the security of these devices can be at risk.

Protecting your apps

One of the first things that people should do is set apps to update automatically. Many successful hacks exploit vulnerabilities that have already been patched with software updates. By setting your apps to update automatically, you won’t fall behind on your security. Malicious apps can access your private data and do anything from stealing your passwords, contacts and photos to making purchases from your bank account. Avoid third-party app stores; check how many downloads apps have (if they have a lot, they’re more likely to be legitimate); look out for suspicious permission requests that don’t relate to the app’s purpose.

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Watching out for malware

Clicking unknown links sent via text or email, or those that appear randomly online, could expose your phone to malware as well. If you don’t trust the look of a message, email, attachment or link, don’t open it. Similarly, auto-login to online services can be convenient but if your phone falls into the wrong hands it’s a major vulnerability. It means intruders simply need to open your browser to access your accounts leaving you just as, if not more, exposed than you would by clicking a suspicious link. On Android, go to Smart Lock for Passwords then turn off the auto sign in. On IOS, go to tap Keychain and slide to turn off iCloud Keychain if it’s already been enabled.

Stay away from public WiFi

Protecting your smartphones and tablets is not just about how you use the device; it’s also about where you use it. You should access open Wi-Fi connections with care. Because they are open for anyone to use, public Wi-Fi connections can easily be compromised by hackers, allowing them to steal your passwords and other private data. If you’re in doubt about the security of a public Wi-Fi network, don’t connect. You should stick with Wi-Fi networks that require you to use Use your phone’s mobile data instead, or use a VPN tool like TunnelBear or CyberGhost (both are free on iOS and Android).

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It is important to be cautious about cyber crime in an era where this is becoming increasingly common. However, there is no need to worry about it as a few simple, actionable steps can ensure your personal information is secure.