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Merchant Security Awareness

A guide to securing your mobile devices

June 26, 2024
June 26, 2024
4 mins read
Antonella
Antonella
Cybersecurity and Risk Governance

Editor's note:

Mobile devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops have become extensions of ourselves, like second brains or ever-present personal assistants.

But how would you react if a hacker accesses your device, downloads your personal and professional details, and threatens to leak them? You’d probably want to hide yourself in the most remote part of the world. 

Every time you click on a link in an email, scroll through social media, or share your personal information online, you risk this happening. 

Your mobile device is an easy target for cybercriminals. Every day, they find new ways to exploit our slightest vulnerabilities. With Artificial Intelligence becoming more ubiquitous, their social engineering techniques have become even more dangerous.

So, how do you protect yourself and prevent cybercriminals from accessing your private and business information through your phone, tablet, or other mobile devices?  

  1. Update your devices regularly 

We know updating your devices can be monotonous, but it’s one of the simplest ways to keep them impenetrable.

Updating your mobile devices goes beyond the operating system; you must also update all your apps. 

Smartphone and mobile device companies release these regular patches and updates to fix previous vulnerabilities and boost the security of your devices.

By running on the latest software version, you effectively safeguard them against potential threats and vulnerabilities.

  1. Don’t open suspicious messages and links 

This hack is one of the simplest ways to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. Cybercriminals often disguise malicious links and messages as legitimate communication from trusted sources, such as your favourite online store, social media company, or bank.

Always be cautious when clicking links or downloading attachments, especially if they're unsolicited or discounts that seem too good to be true. 

If you have doubts, verify the sender's identity and double-check the URL before clicking the link. 

  1. Enable device locks and encryption

Protect your devices with secure authentication mechanisms such as PINs, passwords, fingerprints, or facial recognition. Enable encryption to safeguard your information if your device falls into the wrong hands. 

These security features act as a first defence against unauthorised access and ensure your information remains secure even if your device is lost or stolen. When your mobile device gets stolen, report it to the authorities and use your mobile device's security feature, like Find My iPhone or Google Find My Device for Android phones, to try and locate it. 

  1. Don’t connect to public Wi-Fi networks

Don’t connect to wifi networks at hotels, public cafes, airports, and other public places when you leave your home.

Public Wi-Fi networks are susceptible to cyber-attacks because they are usually open and not well secured. Hackers can intercept data transmitted over unsecured public connections, which can expose sensitive information. 

If you can’t avoid it, use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet traffic and add an extra layer of security.

VPNs protect you in these public places by routing your internet connection through a private server. This way, your IP address is inaccessible, the VPN hides your activity, and any hacker trying to access your device won’t be able to.

While VPNs keep you safe, avoid accessing sensitive accounts or conducting financial transactions while connected to a public Wi-Fi. It’s better to delay for a few hours than hackers accessing vital information that’ll cause you financial loss or reputational damage.

  1. Install anti-malware software

Mobile devices should have anti-malware software installed to offer protection against malware. 

These security tools can detect and remove malicious software that may compromise your device's security and privacy. If your mobile device suddenly slows down or starts malfunctioning, scan it and cross-check recently installed apps. That could be a sign of malware running in your mobile device’s background.

  1. Always download from your device stores

Be discerning when downloading and installing apps on your device. Always stick to official app stores, where apps undergo rigorous security checks and tests before being made available.

Avoid downloading apps from third-party sources. They may contain malware programmed to send your information to hackers once you install them.

  1. Backup your data regularly

Create regular backups of your data in case all your security protocols fail and cybercriminals breach your device or it malfunctions.

Doing this gives you a safety net if hackers access your device. It’s important to back up your data with reputable data storage companies. A good hack is to use your mobile device's inbuilt cloud storage.

If you implement these security measures and stay alert, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cyber threats targeting these devices. 

Always stay informed, exercise caution, and prioritise cyber security to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals and protect your data.

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