Security Tips For Protecting Your Smartphones From Malware

Smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives, making it increasingly crucial to secure them. JUSTICE OKAMGBA writes that you can effectively secure your phone

Globally, a significant majority of phone users use their devices for a variety of purposes. According to Statista, approximately 75 per cent of users engage in messaging, 60 per cent use their phones for banking, and nearly 50 per cent rely on them for navigation.

As the use of smartphones becomes more widespread and diverse, the sophistication of mobile threats has also increased, making robust security practices more crucial than ever.

In December, cybersecurity experts at Kaspersky identified a highly advanced vulnerability in iMessage, highlighting the urgent need for vigilant mobile security measures.

Mobile phones can be compromised through several methods, including malware, phishing, unsecured public WiFi, and SIM swap attacks.

Signs that a phone may have been hacked include sudden battery drain, unexpected charges, unfamiliar apps, and unauthorized account access.

According to a statement by the National Information Technology Development Agency, cybercriminals are increasingly employing malvertising to distribute various types of malware.

This includes crypto mining scripts that are covertly integrated into legitimate advertising networks and web pages.

To safeguard personal data and prevent unauthorized access to mobile devices, it is essential to follow specific security guidelines.

These practices can significantly enhance the security of personal information and reduce the risk of hacking.

Weekly reboots

The National Security Agency Mobile Device Best Practices report mentioned that iPhone and Android users power their phones off and back on once a week to protect against malware.

Regularly turning off and then restarting smartphones can disrupt potential malware and make it harder for hackers to exploit software vulnerabilities.

While this action alone won’t eliminate all security risks, it significantly reduces the chances of malware persisting on the device.

Disable unused services

Users are advised to disable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular services when they are not in use, the report stated.

These connectivity features, while convenient, can serve as entry points for cybercriminals.

Disabling them when not needed can prevent unauthorized access and data interception, thereby protecting personal information from being compromised.

Avoid public Wi-Fi networks

Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks is generally discouraged, as these networks often harbour rogue access points that can intercept and collect data from unsuspecting users.

By avoiding public Wi-Fi and turning off Wi-Fi when not in use, users can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to malicious network attacks.

Regular software updates

Keeping phone software updated is crucial, as updates often contain patches and fixes for known vulnerabilities.

Regular updates are a critical aspect of maintaining mobile security.

The report also emphasized the importance of updating software as soon as new releases become available.

Software updates often address security flaws and provide patches for vulnerabilities, making them a critical aspect of mobile security.

The Nigeria Communications Commission also recommended keeping mobile device software up-to-date, using strong and unique passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and avoiding public WiFi networks.

Protecting microphones and cameras

For those concerned about privacy, using a case that covers the microphone and camera can provide an extra layer of security.

This prevents “hot mic” attacks, where the microphone remains active without the user’s knowledge, and unauthorized access to the camera.

While it may seem unlikely, cyber-intelligence experts have demonstrated that such attacks are possible, as evidenced by spyware developed by Israel’s NSO Group.

Safe charging practices

Users are also encouraged to use only the charging cords and accessories that come with the phone or are purchased from trusted manufacturers.

Public USB charging stations should be avoided, as they can be compromised to inject malware into devices. Bringing a portable charger while travelling is a safer alternative.

Use encryption

Encrypting your device ensures that your data remains inaccessible to unauthorized individuals. Additionally, utilizing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) creates a secure, encrypted tunnel for your internet connection, safeguarding your online activities and maintaining your privacy.

Downloading apps from right sources

Certain apps, which handle sensitive data, communicate over unsecured internet connections and rely on third-party servers, posing significant security threats to users.

According to NITDA, the sensitive data collected by these apps not only accesses user information but also shares it with third parties, further compromising user privacy and security.

To safeguard against data exploitation, NITDA recommends avoiding downloading apps from third-party sources.

Official app stores have strict security checks and guidelines for developers. Apps are usually scanned for malware and other security issues before being approved.

It is very critical for any potential user to read reviews and check developer credentials to assess legitimacy.

The agency suggested ensuring apps available for download in Nigeria have privacy policies compliant with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).

It added that users should customize app settings to restrict the amount of personal information disclosed.

By incorporating these security measures into their daily routines, smartphone users can better defend themselves against the growing threat of cyberattacks and ensure their personal information remains secure.



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