New research reveals that nearly half (49%) of UK adults have not installed or didn’t know their mobile phone has security software. So keeping personal data safe from hackers has never been more important.
In the wrong hands, stolen data can be used by hackers for illegal activity such as applying for loans or credit cards under a victim’s name, or accessing bank accounts to withdraw money.
“Our mobile phones are home to lots of stored data and without correctly protecting your personal information, it could easily land in the wrong hands, says Richard Gray, Head of Marketing and Digital, at insurance company Insurance2go.
He adds: “‘SIM-jacking’ is a common method where hackers are able to use stolen data to obtain a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC). This can then be used to switch the victim’s phone number to another phone on another network, helping them gain access to a range of personal data and information, often including banking details.”
In conjunction with Insurance 2go we share five ways mobile phone users can help protect their personal data.
1. Be cautious of public Wi-Fi
Using public Wi-Fi is great for those who have a low data allowance, or are running out of mobile data. However, public networks often don’t provide a secure connection, making it easy for hackers to use them to access personal data.
Hackers targeting public Wi-Fi hotspots are able to use what is known as a ‘man-in-the-middle’ attack, which is when a hacker intercepts financial information, passwords and log-in information through a public network.
Always avoid using mobile banking apps or making online purchases whilst logged onto a public Wi-Fi network. For those who do need to use public Wi-Fi, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app. A VPN can protect data from getting into the wrong hands by encrypting online data and keeping personal information secure when using a public Wi-Fi connection.
2. Turn off ‘sharing’ settings when not in use
Smartphone features that share a location should be used with caution and always turned off when not in use. Features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, location services, mobile data and Near Field Communication (NFC) are susceptible to hacking, especially Bluetooth location services as they transmit a device’s location and presence.
Hackers can easily get hold of personal information and data through features that mark a phone as ‘visible’, so always make sure to disable such features when they are not needed.
“SIM-jacking’ is a common method where hackers are able to use stolen data to obtain a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC). This can then be used to switch the victim’s phone number to another phone on another network.”
3. Only download legitimate apps
Downloading illegitimate apps is another way to open your personal data up to hackers. Often, apps hosted on some websites or third-party app stores can contain malware and can access data once downloaded. It’s recommended that users only download apps from the official app stores, so App Store for iOS users, Google Play for Android users or the AppGallery for Huawei owners.
4. Be wary of app permissions
When an app is first downloaded, it often asks for ‘permission’ to access certain features or information held on a mobile phone. From the camera roll, to your speaker, location or phone contact list, apps can ask for a range of permissions in order for certain functions to work.
Be cautious of what information an app is requesting access to and question whether the app actually needs that information. For example, a photo editing app doesn’t need contact list information in order to function correctly, so take the time to properly think about whether or not that information is needed.
Viral video app, TikTok, recently came under fire for security issues in the US, with reports claiming that the Pentagon warned U.S. military personnel in January to delete it from their phones. Last month India also banned TikTok, among other apps, over security and privacy concerns.
5. Avoid using auto-login
While it’s recommended to have a variety of passwords for online accounts rather than the same password, auto-login gives hackers easy access to personal data by simply opening up an app or webpage. For those likely to forget multiple passwords, note them down in a secure, password-protected note on a phone, or in a notebook that is kept secure and stored away.