The Susceptibility of Your Phone
Today, our phones are actual mechanical appendages of our bodies.
A majority of us cannot fathom going a whole day without our mobiles. In fact, the average person checks his or her phone 110 times a day.
Furthermore, according to a recent telephone survey, around 90% of Americans fall in the category of ‘overusing, abusing, or misusing’ their mobiles.
This should be of concern because unsecured mobile phones occupy an unenviable spot in the top 7 list of major causes of security breaches.
Hackers have devised various ingenious ways to get into your phone. A hacker may only need your phone number to get started.
One way he may use your phone number is to send you a text message containing a malicious link. Then when you click on this link you unknowingly give the hacker unfettered access to intercept your communications—calls and texts, and even track your whereabouts.
The Appeal of a Phone to Hackers
It is scary. However, the ease with which hackers can pull this off is one of the top reasons why a phone is appealing to hackers.
However, most phones today have more processing power than the computers that landed Apollo II on the moon, yet have limited security features. In addition, these unsecure handheld computers (aka your phone) are often available 24/7/365.
Thus, it is remarkably easy for hackers to pull off an attack. This underscores one of the top reasons why a phone is appealing to hackers.
Another reason is that hackers can use smartphones as a “pivot point” to attack highly secure environments, such as critical national infrastructure or banks.
Your phone could be a ‘makeshift’ router that redirects malicious traffic from hackers to a heavily protected targeted.
Highly implicating data siphoned off the target will first be stored on your phone, before moving on to the hacker. Unfortunately, you will be oblivious to all of these transmissions.
Nonetheless, all forensics traces would lead back to your phone as the source of the hack.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong
That can lead to a nasty surprise.
People have been wrongly accused for cyber-crimes when hackers use their resources for malicious activities without their knowledge.
A prominent example is this one time when Microsoft filed a lawsuit against a man from the Czech Republic — Dominique Piatti, and his domain name company — dotFREE Group SRO.
The contention was that Microsoft believed that Piatti or his business controlled the Kelihos botnet that was capable of sending 3.8 billion spam emails daily.
Microsoft eventually found out they were wrong about Piatti. However, the negative publicity and legal fees incurred by Piatti have taken their toll.
It could be worse, if the authorities are involved.
It is chilling that regardless of how the ridiculous the accusation may sound to you, proving that you are not guilty is harder than you think, especially if you do not regularly use a cyber-monitoring or cyber-defense solution.
That said, if you think hackers are your only worry, you would be shocked that there is more to worry about. The US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ have masked their malicious activities by routing their attacks through devices owned by innocent individuals.
Even business organizations can deliberately frame employees by hiring hackers who would plant incriminating material on the work phones of the targeted employee.
Security Measures You Should Take
For a moment, the overwhelming number of possibilities of how things can go wrong may lead paranoia.
Waiting on your mobile service provider to deploy cyber-protection mechanisms for you is impractical. Some people think this should be the norm.
However, the terms of service that you agree to before using any mobile service provider would disagree. It is your sole responsibility to protect your phone.
It is not different from how it is also your sole responsibility to protect your laptop when you surf the Internet.
So, what can you do?
- First, install an anti-virus application. Many decent options are free.
- Next, endeavor to install applications only from well-known app markets—Google Play for Android, Apple App Store for iOS, Windows Phone Store for Windows Phone OS.
- Avoid ‘rooting’ or jail breaking’ your phone, unless you know what you are doing and are a security expert.
- Avoid clicking on links you receive from unknown sources.
- Encrypt all your phone data and install a logging or monitoring solution on your phone to record all your activity. It could come in handy on the off chance that you are the target of outrageous accusations.