As we saw just yesterday, your phone can open you up to scams and other dangers. This is even true if you’ve got a “dumb” mobile without all the clever smartphone extras. Out there, on the other end of your phone, are endless people who want to extract money from you. It’s something we’ve also seen coming through the traditional “old style” home phone.
Getting a smartphone, and then coming here and excitedly downloading all the apps that take your fancy, is something we’re always going to encourage. Moving from a basic phone, or even a slower Android handset which perhaps couldn’t handle the installation of lots of apps, and getting yourself a powerful and fast phone will open up a whole world of games and applications.
Let’s be honest, antivirus programs and encryption aren’t the first things that come to mind when you’re playing with your new smartphone. However, your phone is susceptible to being hacked and infected if you stray from the standard app stores. In addition, browsing to certain parts of the internet and getting bombarded with the wrong type of pop-up advertisement can infect your phone. It’s something that can happen right under people’s noses, and many simply don’t know what to look for. So here’s a quick reminder if you’re new to these parts :)
- Be on alert for phishing scams
Phishing scams aren’t exclusively pushed through email or websites. As we saw recently, you can receive an unexpected call requesting personal information. A lot of “social engineering” will be used during the call with the clear intention of gaining your trust. Caller ID details can be spoofed and, using your publicly-available information (from Facebook, Twitter and other sources such as Government websites etc), they can fool you into thinking that they are a real and trustworthy company.
I usually ignore calls from unknown numbers, and tend to look online to see whether the call was from a real and recognised company. In the USA, if the caller is using Verizon, you can perform a Verizon phone number lookup and then use the information in the results to scour the net for reports of abuse. Elsewhere, you can use websites which allow users to quickly report scam numbers so that others are sufficiently warned about the possible dangers.
- Get an anti-virus app on your phone
Even the most careful owner can fall prey to online tricks, dodgy apps and adverts which take you off to the darker sections of the web. Anti-virus, anti-theft, and privacy features are the main components in apps such as McAfee’s mobile security suite. In essence, your smartphone is a computer that needs to be protected against viruses, spyware, ransomware, and malware. You also need protection against malicious websites.
With McAfee’s mobile security suite, you’ll also be protected against theft. You can locate, track, and send yourself an alarm if your phone goes missing. This suite also allows you to lock your phone remotely, and even get a snapshot of the person holding your mobile device.
- Don’t go crazy downloading apps from all over the place!
Be careful with any app which is available to download off the normal Apple iTunes or Google Play stores. Although there are other app stores (such as Amazon Appstore etc), it’s all too easy to also go out and find paid-for-apps for free on shady websites. It’s tempting to get these, but you’re effectively “dropping your shields” by allowing apps to be installed directly and without checks.
- Put a screen lock on!
Locked phones prevent theft, but not in the way you might think. A lot of people, and I include myself in this, don’t tend to like the faff which can be associated with unlocking a phone. Now, however, you can use face unlock and very quick fingerprint unlock systems to get into your phone without needing to put PIN numbers or patterns into the screen each time.
Also, while we’re talking about locking, it’s important to mention why some networks lock phones down. This type of lock is slightly different – it’s where you buy a phone from (say) EE and they lock it so that you can’t put a Vodafone SIM card. Unlocking a phone, however, makes it easier to sell. It’s for this reason that networks like Verizon implement a 60-day lock on all new phones. A 60-day lock should ensure that Verizon could collect and verify the first payment for the device. This stops the new customer from being able to sell the phone so easily. After those 60 days, the phone is automatically be unlocked.
Other networks have similar policies but, here in the UK, some networks sell their phones with no network lock at all. Three is one of these
Don’t let your guard down
Welcome to the world of smartphones! But, like any internet-connected gadget, you need to secure down your data. Put a screen lock on your phone to protect your data (photos, videos, emails, texts and more), monitor what you’re downloading, check what you’re being offered, and always defend yourself with anti-virus.