Our smartphones are home to some of the most sensitive data possible such as our passwords, photos, banking login credentials, or private conversations. Let’s dig into how our data makes our smartphones a lucrative target for cybercriminals.
We take our phones everywhere and use them to do everything possible. And, inevitably, in a rush to be productive, we forget that our phones are also prime targets for would-be hackers.
With such a trove of data in the pocket of nearly every person on the planet, it’s no surprise that some of the world’s most clever minds have dedicated themselves to cracking smartphone security. With that as our backdrop, below are some of the most common ways your smartphone can be used to steal your data.
SMSishing or SMS Phishing
You likely give out your phone number all the time online–while signing up for services, sending out resumes, etc. It is impossible to know who has your phone number at any given time, but it is safe to assume that many people you wouldn’t want to have it do in fact have it. They might just want it for marketing purposes, or they might be using it for something more nefarious.
People phish through phone calls all the time. All it takes is a quick google search, and you can find yourself on pages of people’s personal phone numbers, saved contacts, and email addresses. It’s frightening to think how much harm can be done just by having your phone number in the wrong hands. Using a reverse phone lookup when you don’t recognize the number calling, you should always be your first line of defense.
Your phone contains sensitive personal and financial data
Your smartphone stores your passwords, contains personal emails and texts, pictures of loved ones, social security numbers, credit card data—even access to bank accounts. If the device is compromised by malware or other tricks, someone could easily steal all that information in just a few minutes by tapping into everything you do on your smartphone.
If you decide to log into public wifi network at an airport or a coffee shop, you’re exposing yourself to hackers who could be just waiting for the opportunity. Public spaces, especially those with free wifi access points, are a prime place for hackers to target. If you’re at a coffee shop or shopping mall and you decide to log into the free wifi network, that’s like dialing in on your computer — it’s the same thing because you’re on the same network.
For most people, the physical theft of their phone is a nightmare scenario. Even if you insure your phone with a carrier, it can take time and money to replace and restore everything. And the case of lost/forgotten phones is even worse: If they’re not password-protected, anyone who finds them has unfettered access to all your information.
If someone is able to steal your phone off the table or out of your bag while you are not paying attention, they could potentially gain access to your data. Make sure you keep your phone in a safe place to avoid this.
Smartphone scams and hacking attempts can be more difficult to identify
Why might it be more difficult to identify scams and hacking attempts when they happen via smartphone as opposed to a desktop or laptop computer? The reason it’s harder to identify these scams and/or hacking attempts would be that the user has everything they need at their fingertips, and therefore, they might not recognize certain behaviors as suspicious.
For example, A stranger may offer you a deal on some electronics or other expensive items. They ask for your email so they can send you pictures of the items. They also send you a link to the page where you can purchase them, but your phone tells you that it’s not safe because it contains malware. If you try to go back and delete the email, they’ve already collected all of your personal information, which could result in identity theft.
Most people couldn’t live their lives without their phones, but it is a major point of vulnerability as well. Make sure to take care of your phone and keep it in a safe place. Try not to use public wifi networks if you don’t need to, have up-to-date security patches, and always check for malware or other suspicious links or texts that might contain viruses before opening them. Having this knowledge can help prevent the compromising of your personal information.