September 17, 2015 by The GLS Team
Your mobile phones are the targeted devices of hackers in 2015. We’re several weeks from the holiday season, and they aren’t slowing down. This issue got worse earlier this year when Apple announced ApplePay, and I’ll tell you why here in a minute.
Not more than five years, ago, laptops were considered an extension of ourselves. That’s not so true anymore. In today’s world, that extension has turned into our mobile phones. So much of what we do, we do on our phones. Gone are the days when smartphones were a luxury item. Now they are a necessity. Just about everything we did on our laptops five years ago, we have figured out a way to make things even more mobile.
There are several activities we participate in daily that make phones a primary target. Identity theft is still in full swing and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Our phones connect to every Wi-Fi network imaginable to save money on our mobile data use. If you look at the “remembered” networks on your phone, you might easily see 30-50 networks ranging from the grocery store to the corner store where you pump gasoline. Sure, wireless security might have taken strides in the last ten years, but remember this: every key has a lock. There is a public mentality that says, “It can’t happen to me.”
Security is like windshield wipers. If you need new ones, you don’t think about it until it’s raining. When it’s dry outside, the state of your wipers are the furthest thing from your mind. You have better things to worry about. You have a job to get to every day or kids to cart around. It’s not affecting you at the moment, so why worry, right?
It’s high time you thought about the security of your phone. If you’re like the majority of phone users, you use it for social networking, so your name and online identity is out there for the world to see. I’m not just talking about Facebook, either. Twitter, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, and others have your information, much of it public. Search engines like EmailHunter will pull up your email address. Did you tweet where you ate last night for dinner? All your followers know where you were. Did you tag anyone in your Facebook update about a get-together last week? Everyone on your friends list and everyone on their friends list now knows where you were.
Just for a second, let’s think about how much money you spent online. If you’re like me, you might have an Amazon Prime membership. When was the last time you used purchased something through your phone’s interface? Both Samsung and Apple may have new pay interfaces to go with their phones, and they have done everything within their power to protect you, but you need to meet them halfway. They have opened the way for you to make online mobile payments the primary way to pay for anything…literally. People are quickly catching up with the times and are accepting rent payments, bill payments, credit card payments, and every online purchase right there through your phone. According to Juniper Research, $2.5 trillion dollars are spent moving money around. That’s online, mobile, and contactless payments altogether. They estimate it will rise to $4.7 trillion by 2019, which is just around the corner.
If you follow the financial breadcrumbs, contactless payments mean people are storing financial information in their phones. People suppose this is safer than giving this information to a retailer. It makes sense—if retailers didn’t keep a database of your credit card information, they wouldn’t be a target of unethical hackers to begin with. They would be the equivalent of breaking into an empty house.
It’s a dangerous world out there. Phone manufacturers can only take so many steps to protect you without stepping on your toes. You need to meet them halfway and get into the habit of safe practices to keep private information private. Your phone is a tool of convenience. Protecting your information is inconvenient. You decide where you draw the line.
To learn more about mobile security, consider taking an online class or delivering an eLearning program to your organization from us at Global Learning Systems. A great place to start is with our Security Awareness training, but we also have a best practice module focused on mobile security. We take security seriously. We suggest you do the same.