Why your smartphone isn’t as secure as you think it is

Why your smartphone isn’t as secure as you think it is

Smartphones are now used for more purposes than ever before. They are used to store personal information and to access bank accounts. This means their value to hackers has never been higher.

Smartphones are designed with this knowledge in mind. But there is a limit to what manufacturers can do to prevent unauthorized access and spying. Smartphones are still more secure than computers, but this does not mean they can prevent all unwanted activity.

Here’s why your phone might not be as secure as you think it is.

Why would someone want access to your phone?

If you store valuable information on your phone, that information can obviously be stolen. But no matter what’s on your phone, it can still be profitable to get you to install the wrong app.

A malicious app can run invisible ads in the background for click fraud. Or it may display pop-ups that trick the user into providing personal information. Many apps also track user behavior for advertising purposes, and this is not always done with the user’s consent.

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8 reasons why your smartphone might not be as secure as you think

Smartphones offer a lot of protection against these threats. But this does not mean that your smartphone will not be used against you.

1. Your smartphone won’t update

Smartphone updates must be installed periodically. Hackers are always finding new vulnerabilities, and the main purpose of updates is to fix these vulnerabilities as they are discovered. If your phone is not updated then it is not protected from this problem.

People often use outdated phones voluntarily, but it can also happen because the phone manufacturer no longer provides security updates. Regardless of why it happens, an outdated phone is a security risk and should not be used for important purposes.

2. Official apps may have malware

Android phone with apps

If you care about security, you probably only download apps directly from Google’s App Store or Apple. This protects you from most malicious apps, but even these platforms aren’t perfect.

Malicious apps are occasionally approved, and due to the popularity of these platforms, they are often widely used before being removed.

This problem is hard to avoid, but you can protect your phone by only downloading known apps and uninstalling anything you don’t need.

3. Official apps may not respect your privacy

Many otherwise respectable apps do not respect users’ privacy. This isn’t a problem for all users, but if you value your privacy, it’s important to choose the apps you install carefully. The alternative is to discover that your behavior is constantly being tracked.

Any app published on the Play Store or App Store is required to list what information it collects. However, it is up to users to actually read this information and make their decisions accordingly. Many free-to-use apps are free because they collect personal information.

4. Unofficial apps are installed

If you download apps from unofficial sources, you may be inviting malware to your phone. Official app stores aren’t perfect, but you’re guaranteed a certain level of protection that’s not offered anywhere else.

If someone wants to promote a malicious app, it is difficult to get the app accepted on an official source, and most attempts fail. Because of this, many cybercriminals use unofficial sources to promote their products instead.

5. Your smartphone is not properly locked

silver key next to gold and silver padlock

A properly locked smartphone cannot be accessed by anyone. But there are many ways a smartphone can be locked, and the effectiveness varies. If you use a PIN, your code is only as secure as it is private.

Many people post their codes publicly, which potentially defeats the purpose. Facial recognition is also possible to crack, regardless of what you do to prevent intrusion. Smartphones locked in this way can potentially be unlocked using photos of the owner. The most secure option for locking a device is unlocking with a fingerprint or a PIN that no one knows.

6. You have allowed too many permissions

Permissions provide full control over what apps are allowed to do. Provided the permissions are sufficiently restricted, you can install a malicious app and it won’t actually be able to do anything. Unfortunately, permissions are not always sufficiently used.

If you install an app and don’t limit what it can access, you’re basically trusting it with all your data. To avoid this problem, you should give as few permissions as possible even with apps you trust.

7. Smartphones do not offer phishing protection

Illustration of a phishing attack on a laptop screen

A phishing site is a website that appears to be legitimate but is actually designed to steal information. They usually ask you to log into one of your accounts, and when you do, your password is stolen.

Smartphones are designed to protect against malware, but they offer almost no protection against phishing. Even though your phone is secure, this does not mean that you cannot be hacked as a result of using it. To avoid phishing sites, always check the URL carefully before providing personal information.

8. Pegasus is now a threat

Smartphones are difficult to hack, but not impossible. Pegasus is a program that can be used to hack into any smartphone and turn it into a listening device. Once installed, it is also capable of copying any data it finds. There is no protection against that.

Pegasus is only available to public players, so the average person doesn’t have to worry about it. But many people have been surprised to learn that this kind of technology is available to everyone. It also shows that for the right price, smartphones aren’t really secure at all.

Smartphones are secure, but not impenetrable

Smartphones are much more secure than computers, but security still needs to be taken seriously. Installing malicious apps on people’s phones is very profitable regardless of who the victim is. It is therefore important to protect yourself against this outcome.

To keep your phone as secure as possible. It’s important to be careful about what apps you install, what permissions you give them, and what security settings you use in general. You also need to watch out for phishing scams that smartphones don’t offer protection against.

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