For many of us, surfing the internet on our cell phones is normal. More people than ever are accessing the internet through smart devices and tablets. Still, as the number of online users increases, so do the risks of scammers and hackers.
If we are going to be really honest, the internet has never really been “safe.” Viruses, trojans, malware, etc. have all been around since the dawn of the world wide web. However, it is evident that since the pandemic, we have seen a dramatic increase in cybercrime.
Additionally, the Tech Republic states that even though the “publicly disclosed” breaches fell by 48% in 2020, the actual number of successful breaches has increased by a whopping 141%. This figure equates to 37 billion, the largest figure (since 2005) to be recorded by security firm Risk Based Security.
Five Top Tips to Keep You Safe While You’re on Your Phone
Our phones and smart devices have been our lifeline throughout this pandemic. Since we use our phones every day, we can forget about the fact that scammers are constantly looking for ways to gain information. But if you implement the tips below, you can ensure that this is less likely to happen.
1. Consider Investing in an Android or iOS Anti-Virus Software
If you’re thinking, I’ve already got one for my PC, why do I need it for my phone, whether you have an Android or iOS device? Well, 60% of digital fraud comes from mobile devices. Although you do need an anti-virus for your PC, you can also get it for your phone. Many anti-virus subscriptions come with a mobile option as part of the basic package.
In theory, if you wanted, you could just purchase the best anti-virus software for iOS or Android and leave it running. But the best practice is to do manual tests, ensure that it’s running in the background. Sadly, there are a lot of apps that are embedded with trojans or spyware. They slowly begin to turn your phone into a zombie. Eventually, it will ruin your phone if left unchecked and you have spyware running in the background.
Some people think that their battery is damaged. When the real reason is actually that you have installed a bad application. Generally, if you use an anti-virus like Total AV, you will install it on one smart device or tablet. Sometimes, they can help to clear your email up. Since Covid-19, there are tons of email phishing links circulating.
However, once you click on them, they can take over your email. Then, they can try and use the information for adverse purposes. If you do invest in anti-virus for your Android or iOS, then be sure to keep it updated. If you use this alongside the other four tips, we’re confident that you will not have to be too worried about hackers.
2. Install a VPN for your mobile device
We recommend using the best VPN for Android for various reasons. If you are not that technically minded, don’t be put off by the terminology. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) has many functions, including:
- Protecting your data from scammers and hackers
- Encrypting important information, so it’s impossible to decipher
- Monitoring your emails for phishing attacks
- Preventing tracking cookies from spying
- Masks your IP address so no-one knows your location
Besides the above benefits, a VPN is the best tool that you can have to keep you safe online. We always recommend using this type of security if you connect to public Wi-Fi. The reason we say this is because you never know how secure your internet connection is.
Although it might sound far-fetched, you never know, as a patient scammer could be waiting to piggyback on this network in the efforts to steal information. Not only that, the owner of the hotspot could actually gain your information if they wanted to. Similar to how we have to wear masks and social distance, you should implement a VPN while browsing the web on your Android or iOS device.
3. Avoid Unsecure Payment Sites
Sometimes, we click on the link to that really unique item, whether it’s a custom-made dress, a Harry Potter wand, or that just something you’ve been looking for. But often, if an item seems too good to be true… then it tends to be the case.
Whenever you are making any type of purchase, we always recommend using a secure site. Plus, you can also check the validity of the site. Sometimes, sites can mirror the original site. For example, Forever 21 might then be listed as “Forever Twenty-One,” and then we click that link.
Often, you will find that phishing and fake sites will be littered with spelling mistakes. They are literally put together quickly, left there in the hopes that people will fall for the scam. One thing that we found useful, is that Boston University mentioned you could identify if a site is secure.If you notice it is only HTTP://, then the site isn’t secure. Whereas if it features the “HTTPS,” it is secure. Alternatively, if you use Chrome, you can see if your connection is secure or not by clicking the padlock icon on the left-hand side (see the image above).
4. Unique Passwords
Your password is arguably the easiest way that a hacker will steal your information. We’re not sure about the logistics, but based on other articles, it seems that hackers will use software (or they might do it manually) to generate usernames. If a hacker gets your email address, generally, you will have used that email across multiple sites, including your banking.
Once they see your emails, they can then generate phishing links to say that you’ve got a refund from your bank. Or you have won a competition (that you didn’t even know about). Generally, if something seems too good to be true, I.e., a $7,000 IRS tax refund, then it probably isn’t real. Sadly, people will still not be able to resist the urge not to click the link.
So, we recommend that you have a unique password for each of your accounts. Therefore, if your email does become compromised, you can ensure that your social media, banking, etc will also remain safe. Oh, and if you have a bad memory with passwords, there are tons of applications like the Google Password Manager. If you have a password manager, you will reduce the risk of your other accounts becoming compromised.
Also, the great thing about using a password manager is that they are normally free to use; you can either use them as an application or as a Chrome extension. Sometimes, there are payable password managers, but as long as it saves you the frustration of forgetting your password, it’s doing the correct job. Plus, we don’t know about you, but coming up with a new password is pretty time-consuming.
So be smart and use a password manager and generator to ensure your accounts remain safe from hackers. Another password-related tip is to make sure that you update your passwords at least once a year. Emails are constantly compromised, primarily when you click on those pop-ups on Facebook (but that’s a different story).
5. Consider Using Two-Factor Authentication
Ugh… two-factor authentication, we’re sure that you are familiar with it. It seems like a great idea, and that’s because it is; the only downside is it can be a pain. However, it does the best job, which ensures that your accounts are definitely secure from hackers. If you’re not familiar with this term, you might be thinking, what is it?
It means that you add two layers of security to your account; it’s not another username and password. Generally, it is a password, then a memorable keyword, or a question or option for you to select. The second part usually verifies with a code sent through to your registered device or email.
Following on from the points in the section above, if your email is compromised, then the chances are your social media accounts are next. You might not want to do this on every account. However, if you use Facebook, we do recommend using it on that account. Facebook owns WhatsApp, Snapchat, and a few other services. This means that if you lose your Facebook, your other accounts are also at risk (even if you have a different password).
The Bottom Line
It is worth noting that even a large company can prevent data from being leaked by following the tips in this article. Especially the VPN, if provided for all staff, can keep your data safe. When these breaches happen, they are newsworthy because they cost the company and sometimes the government a lot of money.
There are countless attempts to breach corporate social media services like Twitter and Facebook. Besides, the University of Phoenix reported that two-thirds of Americans would fall victim to hackers. Follow our advice and make sure you don’t become one of them.