Smartphones make people’s lives more convenient and enjoyable, but they can also make users vulnerable to fraudulent activity. Phone scams alone cost Americans almost $30 billion in 2019, affecting about one in three citizens. With thousands of malicious apps on the market and hackers becoming more creative in their scams, it isn’t easy to ensure 100% protection of your device, even with improving telecommunication security standards. This article discusses some simple steps you can take to secure your smartphone and reduce the risk of fraud and cyberattacks.
Frauds and Cyberattacks Affecting Smartphone Users
There are dozens or even hundreds of ways that fraudsters can use to steal your money and personal data. These are some of the most popular ones that you should be aware of:
- Spoofing to scam. Fraudsters often call people and demand payment under false pretenses.
- Porting for profit. Someone can also use your cell phone service provider to link your SIM to their phone, thus getting access to your passwords, credit card information, social security number, etc.
- Phishing. Fraudsters can send e-mails or call you to identify vulnerabilities. For example, they can send seemingly legitimate requests to update your account. Once you follow the link, they get access to your private data.
- Accessing the smartphone through downloaded apps. Harmful apps can be downloaded even from official websites such as Google Play. These apps are then used to access the valuable personal data kept on your smartphone.
What Should I Do to Prevent Frauds and Cyberattacks?
You can’t always keep up with the new tricks and strategies that fraudsters use, but you can maintain at least a basic level of security by following several simple steps.
Lock Your Smartphone
The first thing you should do is add an extra layer of protection to your device. Lock your phone with a PIN code, face ID, fingerprint, etc., so that no one can access it even if it’s stolen or left unattended. Make sure you use strong passwords that are not easy to guess.
Download Apps from Trusted Sources Only and Use Them Wisely
If you download a new app, make sure you read the information about its developer and customers’ reviews. Quite often, apps that seem legitimate and original are developed by fraudsters, and there are many reviews warning customers not to download them. Even if you download apps that you trust, it’s better not to give them access to your camera and personal data. You can also disable the tracking option, which many apps use to identify your location. The general rule is as follows – the les you share, the safer you are.
Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi Networks
Public Wi-Fi networks are easy to copy. For example, you are sitting in a Starbucks and want to use free Wi-Fi. A fraudster sitting next to you can create a fake network called similar to the legitimate one. If you connect to that network, they may easily steal your personal data. Therefore, always check with the staff the name of the official network and refrain from connecting to unfamiliar free networks when you are in public places.
Don’t Answer Suspicious Calls and Use Caller Protection Software
If you are not sure who is calling and the number looks suspicious, don’t answer. If you do answer the phone by mistake, hang up immediately before fraudsters have time to intimidate you. Never give out any personal information, no matter how realistic the caller’s demands are. The best thing to do is download caller protection apps that block fraudulent calls or send them to voicemail.
What Else Can I Do to Protect My Phone?
Do not use public ports to charge your phone. If they are compromised, someone may access your device and steal your data. You also need to update your software regularly, log out of websites after payment (especially if you saved your credit card information for faster payment), use a VPN, and turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you don’t use them. The more steps you take, the fewer chances you leave for fraudsters to steal your data.