Are Your Mobile Devices Protected from Cyber Threats?

Author: Cassie McCan


Cell phones and other mobile devices have transformed the way people interact with technology on a daily basis. Most people use cell phones to check email, play games, make payments, and many other functions that could only be done on computers.

In fact, according to a Zippia research article, 81.6% of Americans, totaling 270 million people, own a smartphone as of 2023.

Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices are prime targets for cybercriminals. They are easy to steal, use many software applications that could be susceptible to attack, and contain a wealth of information about the device owner.

Many technical security safeguards are not as sophisticated for smartphones and tablets as they are for personal computers. As such, security for mobile devices relies heavily on the owner making conscious choices. Here are some ways to protect your smartphones and other mobile devices against malicious activity:

Use a Pin, Password or Pattern: In the event of loss or theft, using a password, personal identification number (PIN), or pattern will add an extra layer of security. Additionally, using a password manager to create and store unique passwords for each account accessible on your phone will prevent personal information from being exposed if your device fell into the wrong hands.

Install Apps from Trusted Sources: Whether you want to download a game to pass the time or a banking app, be sure to use a trusted source such as Google Play or the App Store. Both of these application marketplaces do security vetting before approving applications for download.

Know Your App Permissions: Upon installation, most applications will request access to different services available on your phone. In many cases, the applications need this access in order for them to function as expected.

For example, a photo-editing application will need access to your camera roll. A voice memo application will need access to your microphone, etc.

Some applications may request more access than is necessary for basic functionality. Applications may also end up with unnecessary permissions over time if the usage of the application changes. Once access is initially allowed, it is not changed unless you disable it.

Periodically review your application permissions by visiting your settings to ensure they only have access to what they need. Instructions for reviewing your application permissions are available in this Wired article.

Update Your OS and Apps Regularly: Updates are released to address security flaws. Applying updates will protect your mobile device from being vulnerable to cyber attacks. These updates also provide additional benefits such as unlocking new features and improving overall usability.

Use WiFi and Bluetooth Connections Carefully: WiFi networks and Bluetooth connections offer easy connectivity, but they can also serve as entry points for cybercriminals if not secured properly.

Public WiFi networks could allow a cybercriminal to monitor your online activity that could lead to exposure of your personal information. Additionally, disabling Bluetooth when it is not needed helps make your device less discoverable to potential criminals or unauthorized parties trying to pair devices.

To protect your online activities, avoid handling sensitive information while connected to public WiFi networks. Disabling automatic WiFi connections on your device will allow you to connect your device to trusted networks as needed.

While mobile devices have added ease and convenience to daily life, it is important to remember the security risks that could impact our devices and information stored within them. For more information on mobile device security, please visit this Infosec Institute security article.