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mobile phishing

Published: 15/04/18 by Becky Ashton

Mobile phishing attacks hit an all-time high so how can you stay safe?

According to new research by mobile security firm Lookout, mobile phishing attacks have risen by 85% every year since 2011!

On average a user clicks on a mobile phishing link 6 times a year, which could be devastating especially as many people control their complete life including finances and household tech via their mobile phone handsets.

Everyone is so aware of cybersecurity risks when they are on a laptop or desktop computer but it seems we are all more relaxed to such potential issues when we are on our mobile phones.

The new report highlights the fact that many cybercriminals are successfully circumventing existing phishing protections to target the mobile devices.

This means that they are able to expose sensitive data and personal information which might otherwise be safe on other devices.

“Most corporations are protected from email-based phishing attacks through traditional firewalls, secure email gateways, and endpoint protection. In addition, people today are getting better at identifying phishing attacks. Mobile, however, has made identifying and blocking phishing attacks considerably more difficult for both individuals and existing security technologies,” said Lookout.

They added: “In spite of being protected by traditional phishing protection and education, 56% of Lookout users received and tapped a phishing URL on their mobile device between 2011–2016.

“Fortunately, in these cases, the attack was thwarted by Lookout. Unfortunately, though, the rate at which Lookout users are receiving and tapping on phishing URLs on their mobile devices has grown by an average of 85% YoY since 2011.”

It’s not only emails though that can be the entry point of a phishing attack, with over 25% of employees clicking on a link in an SMS message from a phone number spoofed to look like one in their area, according to Lookout research.

And this is all before we talk about accessing unsecured data networks and wifi – so how can you and your staff say safe on your mobile phones?

Start with a passcode

This might sound like the most obvious thing ever but you would be amazed how many people still don’t use the most basic of security measures.

If you have certain handsets then using your fingerprint is the best option as this stops anyone seeing you access your phone using the code and then stealing the handset.

If you prefer a passcode or password take time to think of something which is more difficult to hack – so we’re not talking about your date of birth or the last six digits of your phone number!

Encrypt your storage

Most modern devices have the ability to encrypt phone storage. Some of them do it even by default seamlessly without the user even noticing.

By encrypting the storage, if your device is lost or stolen, even the more advanced cybercriminals will have little to no chance of getting to your data – this is advice many celebrities, who have had their ‘personal’ photos hacked, should heed.

Set up remote wipe

Most modern devices support the ability to remotely wipe devices if they do fall into the wrong hands.

By using iCloud on the iPhone or Google Sync on your Android device you can wipe all data remotely meaning everything can still remain largely safe and secure.

All devices should also be set to erase all of the device’s data automatically after a set number of password attempts, as this will discourage hackers.

Antivirus software

A mobile phone is now effectively as a small computer, it can do everything your laptop can so should be treated as such with the installation of anti-virus software as standard.

This will protect the handsets from any malware which can so often be embedded in apps, which are readily available in app stores.

Education

Again, although all of this may seem obvious some people are still oblivious to potential dangers so some simple education and rules, especially where work mobiles are concerned could prevent any future problems.

One simple thing to introduce is stopping people clicking any link on any email or text message.

You should also be suspicious of offers you are asked to download – as often they really are too good to be true and can contain a virus.

Applications should only be downloaded from the official App Store, rather than from third-party sources so you know they are safe.

Manage connections

All automatic connections to open wifi should be disabled on the handsets so you only connect to trusted networks.

If you do need to access Wifi on an untrusted network, then using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the best option.

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