This afternoon I appeared on Sky News to discuss smartphone security. The news item was based on reports that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting mobile phones.
My key points:
- Smartphones are computers and as such are just as vulnerable to cyber insecurity as our PCs. In fact, probably more so: we carry them with us everywhere we go, there are more of them in the world than PCs and they contain a great deal of personal, sensitive and valuable data. With geographic tracking, internet browsing, email, photos, messaging, third-party applications, mobile banking and the rise of mobile payments, it’s no surprise they are increasingly being targeted. Criminals go where the money is so the more we use our phones for money transfers, the more they will be targeted.
- Smartphone providers are working on security. For example, Nokia have signed deals with F-Secure and Symantec to provide anti-virus subscriptions to their consumers. At the hardware level, work is being done to develop a separate and protected portion of memory in which applications can be verified and then run securely. And, at the enterprise level, operators are finding ways to monitor and filter malicious downloads and spam.
- So, there are lots of things operators can and are doing to make mobile phones more secure. However, as with a lot of security, the key to being as secure as you can be lies in how you interact with your device. To better protect yourself, it is recommended that you:
- Be wary of links you click and apps you download
- Consider adblocking to prevent malvertising
- Have wifi turned off by default and only connect to known, trusted networks. Do not trust public networks, for example in coffee shops, as these can be easily spoofed by criminals who can then exfiltrate your data.
- Keep your phone updated, as this updates the security to fix any vulnerabilities which have become known since the last update.