Google’s Consumer Barometer shows that for many people worldwide internet access is smartphone-centric. Smartphones are used to go online at least as often as tablets and computers. Moreover, a Global Web Index report shows that as many as 16% of the world’s online population are mobile-only. Relying on smartphones to go online is particularly popular in countries with younger populations.
“Unfortunately, few people realize that mobile devices are even better at spying on them than computers. Millions of apps make it easy to use smartphones not only for social interaction but also for payment or storing sensitive data. That means users are vulnerable to security breaches as well as personal hacking attacks, especially on public Wi-Fi,” said Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN.
Here are a few tips from NordVPN’s expert Daniel Markuson that can help protect your privacy while using a mobile phone:
1. Recognize suspicious messages. Sometimes people tend to trust a text message more than an email. However, in reality, a “smishing” attack is as dangerous as an email phishing attack. It is usually a text message urging to click on a link. If you do, a malicious app may be installed on your smartphone, or you may be tricked into giving up your sensitive data. Make sure not to click any suspicious links in SMS or messenger apps and not to reply to messages that seem strange.
2. Be vigilant when downloading apps. There are apps designed particularly to collect your data or install malware. Make sure to download apps directly from official app stores, such as Apple’s App Store, Android’s Play Store, or Amazon’s Appstore. Pay attention to any signs suggesting that the app may be fake. For instance, excessive permissions often mean that the app is not legitimate.
3. Use a VPN app on your mobile phone. Many smartphone users tend to use public Wi-Fi hotspots. Unfortunately, these are especially unsafe. Whether you’re shopping online or sharing vacation photos on Wi-Fi, you should always use a VPN to keep your connection encrypted. For example, NordVPN’s apps for iOS and Android provide reliable encryption and user-friendly features.
4. Keep your software and apps updated. Hackers usually exploit security weaknesses in operating systems and apps. That’s why system and app updates usually contain security patches, which are released to protect your smartphone from threats. For your own peace of mind, make sure never to skip software updates.
5. Use your phone security settings. Install an anti-theft and recovery app that can locate your phone, lock it remotely, or even wipe your data if it gets stolen. Don’t forget to use passcodes to secure your phone. They should be more complicated than “1234” or the day of your birthday.