© Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal 2017

When people think of hacking, most imagine desktop computers and laptops as being vulnerable points. However, recently, cybercriminals have expanded their repertoire to include smartphones too, primarily using apps and unsecured Wifi to infiltrate the devices of their unsuspecting victims.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of applications available for iOS, Android and Windows via their respective app stores and third-party sites. Before downloading an app consider these signs as the app could be risky and not worth your time and money.

Excessive permissions – When granting permission to your location, contacts and picture gallery, you can never be certain if this vendor is securing this information and, more likely, if they are collecting and then selling this information onto third-parties like ad networks and analytics companies. And with many of these apps asking for your location, tracking becomes a potential concern with some experts suggesting that the information, if it ended up in the wrong hands, could alert criminals to when you’re not at home.

Pop-up ads - Increasingly, mobile apps on app storefronts are free but with a catch; the free app will serve ads and come with standard features, while those seeking an ad-free experience with more functionality will have to pay to upgrade. Often hackers use the ad networks to collect personal information about users.

Name looks similar to an existing app - iTunes and Google Play are generally very good at spotting malicious apps, but some do still get through the app review process. It’s on these third-party app stores that you need to be especially vigilant, watching out for malicious software disguised to look and feel like the legitimate app. They could be a carbon copy, but still be secretly harvesting your details.

In-app purchases - In-app purchases are a risk, but not so much from a security perspective. Instead, they are a concern because users can unknowingly spend much more money when inside an app than initially intended. There have been numerous stories about children, using their parents’ iPhone or iPad, racking up application bills into the tens of thousands.

Now that you have ensured that your apps are legitimate and secure, you need to ensure that when you access your apps, you do so on a secure network.

Public Wi-Fi is available just about everywhere, from the local coffee shop to the hotels and airports you visit while traveling. Wi-Fi has made our lives a little easier, but it also poses security risks to the personal information available on our laptops and smartphones.

There are basically two kinds of public Wi-Fi networks: secured and unsecured.

An unsecured network can be connected to within range and without any type of security feature like a password or login. Conversely, a secured network requires a user to agree to legal terms, register an account, or type in a password before connecting to the network. It may also require a fee or store purchase to gain access to the password or network.

Regardless of the connection type, you should always use public Wi-Fi with caution.

Don't access personal bank accounts, or sensitive personal data, on unsecured public networks. Even secured networks can be risky.

Don't leave your laptop, tablet, or smartphone unattended in a public place.

Don't shop online when using public Wi-Fi. Making purchases online requires personal information that could include bank account and retailer login credentials. Shopping isn’t something you want to do on an unsecured Wi-Fi network.

Do turn off automatic connectivity. Most smartphones, laptops, and tablets have automatic connectivity settings, which allow you to seamlessly connect from one hotspot to the next. This is a convenient feature, but it can also connect your devices to networks you ordinarily would not use. Keep these settings turned off, especially when you’re traveling to unfamiliar places.

Do monitor your Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth in the home is an amazing feature on many smart devices. However, leaving Bluetooth on while in public places can pose a huge risk to your cybersecurity. Bluetooth connectivity allows various devices to communicate with each other, and a hacker can look for open Bluetooth signals to gain access to your devices. Keep this function on your phone and other devices locked down when you leave your home, office, or similar secured area.

Source: www.norton.com  & www.welivesecurity.com 

Aneesa Khan | Finance Manager