How to Protect the Privacy of One’s Mobile Device
According to a Q4 report by We Are Social of 2018 Global Digital Trends, there are almost 4.2 billion people using the internet and 3.4 billion active social media users.
Millions of new users, especially across Africa and South Asia, have started using the internet for the first time in the past few months. Most of them are connecting through mobile devices.
In general, mobile internet usage accounts for more than half of all global web traffic. Google’s Consumer Barometer survey says that users are five times more likely to go online via their phones.
“Mobile phones are now our favorite tools for internet browsing. However, not many people realize that mobile devices have even more data privacy concerns than computers,” said Ruby Gonzalez, Communications Director of NordVPN. “Basically, a mobile phone acts as a spy – it tracks its owner’s location and gives a lot less control over privacy than a computer would.”
People rely on their mobile phones not only for social interactions but also for banking, sharing data, storing passwords and other sensitive information. As such, they are vulnerable to security breaches, as well as personal hacking attacks, especially when using public Wi-Fi on their phones.
NordVPN has put together some advice on how to protect one’s privacy on a mobile phone:
- Recognize suspicious SMS. One of the most common “smishing” attacks is a text message that contains a link to mobile malware. Once a user clicks on it, a malicious app can be installed on their smartphone. In another example, a scammer can use techniques that are common for charities when a disaster strikes. A charity may send a text message saying “Flood,” and once a user responds with the code word “Prevent,” they automatically donate a certain amount of money to the organization. Users should be careful about clicking on any SMS links or replying to messages. It’s also a good idea to use NordVPN’s CyberSec feature, which is designed to block malicious sites and phishing links.
- Be careful when downloading apps. There are fake apps designed specifically to collect one’s information or install malware. It’s best to download apps directly from official app stores (iTunes, Android or Amazon) and to check for any signs that might scream the app is fake. For example, grammar mistakes indicate an app is not legitimate and so do requests to enter one’s private information.
- Install a mobile VPN app. A VPN encrypts all the traffic flow between the Internet and a user’s device. When shopping, banking, or sharing personal information online, users are advised to be aware of unique threats mobile device users face and to always use a VPN. NordVPN’s mobile app (available for iOS and Android devices) provides secure encryption and user-friendly design and functionality.
- Make sure your software is up to date. Hackers often exploit privacy and security holes – those holes are patched up with software updates. Therefore, it’s important to keep one’s software always up to date.
In addition, NordVPN recommends using passcodes to lock one’s phone (they should be more difficult than “1234” or one’s birthday) and not to click on any suspicious links received by email.