Common Types of Mobile Cyber Attacks and How to Prevent them

With the ubiquity of people owning smartphones and having a growing dependence on them for e-commerce, it has become an attractive avenue for cybercrime. Security researchers report a 500% surge of mobile cyber attacks, as scammers try to steal bank details and passwords or even get full control of phones. However, other forms of mobile malware have invasive snooping features that can record audio and video, wipe data and content, and track your location.

What Are Mobile Cyber Attacks?

Cyber attacks are malicious and deliberate actions by an individual or organization to breach the system of a phone. Usually, when this happens, the attacker is targeting a full compromise of the device, access to email and other apps, or access to sensitive data. The text messages and emails smartphone users receive are often linked to some viruses that are a form of malicious software oh, that would result in a remote takeover of the device. 

There’s a decent chance that many smartphone users have experienced a type of malware that infected their phones without their knowledge. Security researchers say that one-fifth of smartphone users have encountered malware, with four out of 10 phones vulnerable to cyber attacks, often Androids. Let’s look at various forms of malware:

Forms of Mobile Security Malware

As mentioned above, mobile malware is a type of spy malware specifically written to attack the phone – they rely on exploiting different operating systems and mobile technology. There are various forms of mobile malware, each enabling attackers to be more agile in their attacks. Here are a few of the most common:

Mobile Spyware

This type of mobile malware monitors and records information plus actions of an end user without their knowledge. Like other malware, mobile spyware is installed by a phone user unwittingly. The spyware will install on a phone when a user side loads a third-party software application, redirects to a malicious website, or leaves the device unattended. 

If successfully installed, the intruder may be able to eavesdrop on a phone user’s conversations and have access to data that’s on the phone and those transmitted by the device. Anyone can become a victim of mobile spyware; therefore, installing security protection is essential.

Rooting Malware

The Rooting malware works by gaining root access to your smartphone. It gives the malware heightened authority over your phone, allowing the attacker to do some nasty stuff while lurking on a device. This happens when a user visits spamming or phishing websites. If your phone becomes vulnerable to rooting malware, the attacker can delete or install applications and copy confidential information.

Mobile Banking Trojans

Mobile banking Trojans are the most dangerous form of mobile malware. They hack all mobile banking apps and try to steal information and money from the phone’s owner. Any phone users who have bank details on their phone are at risk of getting hacked with Trojans. 

Moreover, Android users are at the highest risk of getting hacked, as most of them usually pose as legitimate applications, so a phone user can unwittingly download the app.

SMS Malware

The mobile SMS malware uses short message services (SMS) plus other messaging applications to access your phone. Others use malicious websites and software to enact damage to phone users. Anyone, which is everyone who uses text messaging applications is at risk of falling victim to such malware. It sends unauthorized texts and emails without the user’s knowledge. Moreover, it can intercept calls and texts. Typically, this malicious software poses as legit mobile applications, making unsuspecting phone users believe it’s safe to install them.

How Does a Smartphone Get Infected?

Smartphone viruses work the same way computer viruses do. A malicious code infects the phone, replicating itself and then spreading to other devices by auto messaging to a user’s contact list or even auto-forwarding as emails. How does your smartphone get infected with such malware? 

There are various ways a phone can get infected, including:

  • Installing a malicious mobile application.
  • Opening or clicking links from malicious emails, websites, or texts.
  • Responding to emails, text messages, and voicemails phishing scams.
  • Using a smartphone that has a vulnerable operating system. A good example is using a phone with an operating system that hasn’t been updated.
  • Utilizing URLs and WI-FI that aren’t secure.

Signs to Watch Out for in an Infected Smartphone 

While it can be difficult to tell if a phone has been infected with malware, the phone may start acting a little weird. Some signs to watch out for include:

  • Poor performance: Some applications installed may take quite a long time to open or crash randomly.
  • Battery drains: The battery charge drains quickly due to the malicious system overworking in the background.
  • High consumption of mobile data.
  • Unexpected billing charges like high data usage costs, thanks to malicious software eating up all your data.
  • The phone may start overheating unexpectedly.
  • Unusual pop-ups.

Keep in mind that when your phone is experiencing these signs, it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s due to mobile malware. Sometimes, your battery is just old or malfunctioning, and you need a new one. If you change the battery, but you’re still experiencing battery drains and unexpected charges, it could definitely be infected, and this is your sign to look for ways to remove the malware.

Removing Malware 

Once you suspect your phone has been infected with a virus, there are various steps you can take. First things first, you’ll need to remove the malware to prevent further damage. Use these simple troubleshooting steps.

  • Shutting down and restarting: The process will help you prevent further damage when you don’t know where the malware is.
  • Activating safe mode: This will depend on the type of phone you’re using, as different types have different setup features for activating safe mode. You can use the phone’s manual to see how you can set up safe mode on your phone.
  • Uninstalling suspicious application: When you notice an application installed on your phone but didn’t recall installing it, it might be a malware, and you need to remove it as soon as possible.
  • Clearing browser history: You’ll first go to the settings section of the phone and click on clear data or website history. The process helps to get rid of pop-ups or text messages that are on your web browser.
  • Erasing all data: Factory resetting the phone is the last step to successfully removing malware on your phone. Keep in mind that factor resetting will automatically delete all data on your phone. Make sure you save all important information somewhere else before you factory reset.

Protecting your Phone from Malware Infections

After fixing your phone, it’s important to safeguard it from future infections and other security risks. Here are some preventative measures you can use to secure your phone.

Installing Mobile Security Application 

Antivirus apps ensure your phone isn’t infected with a malicious software application. They detect and alert the phone user of the potential risks of a malware attack. There are various free anti-malware solutions at your disposal; extensive research will help you settle on one that’s effective.

Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi

Connecting your phone to any public Wi-Fi can leave it vulnerable to mobile malware, especially if it’s not secure. Using hotspot devices for internet services while traveling will help you protect your phone from hacks. It’s also better to turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when they’re not in use to secure your phone from malware that can try to access it through public Wi-Fi.

Moreover, you need to be wary of public charging stations as some of them are compromised with malicious malware. Various reputable internet services offer secure Wi-Fi and hotspot devices that can limit the use of public Wi-Fi.

Social Engineering Scams

Have you ever been in a situation where an individual tries to manipulate you into giving up your personal information? Well, that’s what social engineering scams are all about. They try to entice you to let go of your passwords and bank details or try to get control of your computer. Usually, they come in the form of emails, text messages, and even phone calls. When such circumstances happen to you, and your gut feeling is not sitting right with it, evade it at all costs.

Update your Phone’s Operating System 

It’s wise to update your phone’s operating system when it tells you to do so. This is because it patches security gaps and improves your phone’s performance. Before you try to update the device, you’ll first have to:

  • Charge your phone.
  • Backup files.
  • Ensure your phone is compatible with the upgrade.
  • Delete applications that are no longer in use.

Avoid Jail-breaking or Rooting the Phone 

Rooting mainly applies to Android users. The process allows an individual to access a phone’s operating code. This process gives a user the authority to modify the phone’s program or install other programs that the manufacturer wouldn’t otherwise install. Jail-breaking, on the other hand, applies to iPhone users, which allows unauthorized individual access to the entire file system.

Encrypting Mobile Devices

The process allows mobile users to protect their information, making it hard for attackers to decipher the information when malware occurs. Therefore, encrypting information on your mobile phone is highly encouraged, such that when you lose your phone or misplace it, no one can attempt to access it and attain information.

Backing up Data

It allows phone users to access their data from other devices. This process is convenient for people who’ve lost their phones and may want to restore their old data on their new phones or after malware. The process is different for different phones; therefore, take a look at your manual to see how the process works for your phone.

Use Official Phone’s App Store to Download Application 

This may be an obvious solution, but an important one. If you’re browsing for a new game or other productive applications, use the Google Play store or Apple App Store. It will ensure you only download safe applications. It’s imperative to check the ratings of the application, reviews, private policy, and authority if available. You’ll determine which features on the phone the application can access after installation and accept those you’re comfortable with.

Reviewing Access Permission 

You can easily review the access permission of your phone in the settings section for applications and application notifications. While trying to download a particular application, you must agree to its terms and conditions. This is where it includes the access permission on the phone. In most cases, users can unknowingly accept an application to access their personal information, making them vulnerable to suspicious individuals. Therefore, they’ll need to review the access permission from time to time to patch vulnerability gaps.

Locking your Phone with a Strong Password 

The process may vary depending on the type of phone you’re using. Most password settings include but are not limited to;

  • A minimum of four-digit alphanumeric password. 
  • Facial recognition.
  • Fingerprint verification. 
  • Drawing patterns. 
  • Using a password consisting of letters, numbers, and symbols.

Setting up Device Finders and Remote Wipe Features 

When you set up Find My Phone features on your phone, it allows you to locate your phone when lost or misplaced from another device (usually of the same brand). The feature works when your phone is online and not shut down. 

Remote wipes are an excellent feature when the phone is shut down. It allows the device owner or a phone’s network administrator to delete data from computing devices.

SIM Swapping 

Cybercriminals are gaining new ground in their operations. They’re going far and wide to steal personal information from unsuspecting people. Did you know a cyber attacker can replicate your SIM card without your knowledge? Yes, it’s possible through SIM swapping.

First things first, SIM cards are subscriber identity modules unique to a phone user that stores phone plans, contacts, and texts, among other things. You can easily use this SIM card on another phone and still retain your contacts and texts from your previous phone.

Cyber attackers wanting to impersonate you will trick the mobile carrier of your SIM card to swap your phone number to a new card. Usually, the attackers have some personal information about you and will use this information to convince your mobile carrier to reassign your phone number to a new SIM card. Upon a successful SIM swap, the attacker will change your password to lock you out of your mobile banking accounts and then steal whatever money on there. 

How Can You Tell Your SIM Card Has Been Swapped?

You’ll know your SIM card has been swapped when you notice your phone no longer connects to the cell’s network. Usually, you’ll not be able to make calls, send messages, or surf the internet when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi. Since people use their phones every day, they’re likely to find out quickly that their phone isn’t functioning as it should. 

Moreover, when a SIM card isn’t working, the mobile carrier usually sends a text message informing the user that the card is no longer in use. When you receive such a message, you’ll need to deactivate your SIM card; if you didn’t deactivate the card, call your wireless provider immediately.

Preventing SIM Swapping 

It’s very important to set up measures that’ll protect your device and personal information from SIM swapping. Let’s look at some of them.

Setting Up a Two-Factor Authentication 

You can set up a two-factor authentication limiting SIM swapping using authentication applications. A SIM swap can never occur through authentication applications compared to emailed or texted codes; therefore, an excellent measure to put in place. Add security measures to the authentication application like a PIN code, face, and fingerprint ID, among other things. Don’t go for something obvious; use assorted random numbers as your password.

Be on the Lookout out for Phishing Attempts 

Most cyber attacks emanate from phishing attempts. First, they’ll try to phish for personal information before conducting cybercrime. Mostly, they incorporate fear, urgency, or excitement in their emails, texts, or calls, to distract the victim into giving up their personal information like PINs, Social Security numbers, passwords, and birthdates.

Be vigilant of calls or texts from people or organizations you don’t know; they might be cyber attackers trying to phish for information. Moreover, avoid clicking on suspicious links.

Use a Password Manager 

Usually, your browser will ask you to save a particular password. It’s essential to always say No! However, not saving will make it hard to remember all your unique, long passwords. Even so, you can entrust all your passwords to a password manager.

The secure password manager will make you remember one password. Others passwords will be encrypted and secured by two-factor authentication. This makes it hard for a cybercriminal to attain your passwords.

Robert Siciliano CSP, CSI, CITRMS is a security expert and private investigator with 30+ years experience, #1 Best Selling author of 5 books, and the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social Identity and Personal Protection security awareness training program. He is a frequent speaker and media commentator, and CEO of Safr.Me and Head Trainer at

Are You Addicted to or Distracted by Your Phone? Here’s How to Stop It

I love my phone. I HATE MY PHONE. No really, I love my phone. Actually, I HATE my phone.

Phone addiction and what you can do about it

This post might be a bit off-topic from my usual security stuff, but dealing with one’s phone addiction does help with your security and privacy as well. All of these pop-ups, bells – whistles, and distractions emanating from our devices make it hard to tell what’s legitimate and what’s attempted fraud. Turning off all of the unnecessary alerts we get, will facilitate our ability to focus on what’s real and fake. Read on.

Phone addiction and how to quit

Most of the people out there know about the tricks that an advertiser or app developer might play when they try to get the attention of a consumer. What you don’t realize, however, is that our phones and digital devices are doing things like this automatically, even insidiously and you are probably engaging with them more than you want to, and definitely more than you should.

It’s distracting, it affects our attention to others, relationships, connecting to others, our sex life, our sleep, our job performance, and even our wallets. Frankly, upon understanding what’s happening, this should upset you.

One of the things that phone designers do is use certain colors for notifications: like red or blue. Why? Because certain colors are known to create an emotional response, and this makes us want to click or swipe. This emotional response also can make us feel like we suffer from phone addiction, or feel like we are attached to what our phones give us.

Don’t get caught up here, though. Here are some tips on how to quit phone addiction:

Turn Off Notifications

There is no doubt that notifications can be helpful, and in some cases, they can actually be very important. However, the majority of notifications are not. These are all designed to get people to interact with the app. For example, many people notice that when they get a Facebook notification that someone has posted to their wall, they immediately want to check it. But you could be interrupting something important. So, turn off notifications and check the apps when you have the time.

I suggest turning off everything. And slowly turn on notifications only when you believe you really, absolutely, positively need them.

Unsubscribe and Delete

Delete every app you don’t need. Unsubscribe from every email coming in that is not a necessity. Be ruthless. All of these apps and unwanted emails are another reason to turn your head left or right, up or down requiring the use of your hands and fingers to do something that you shouldn’t be doing. Your focus is sacked every time these communications come in.

Look at Screen Time

This will definitely upset you. You can look at your settings and see how much time you are spending on certain apps. You can easily set this up to be notified. Now, this is an additional distraction, but it’s also going to tell you what activities you do on your phone are helpful and which are not.

Change Colors

We have mentioned that color can play tricks on our minds, and app developers know this. So, think about removing the colors from your phone and changing it to grayscale. You can do this, for instance, on the iPhone, in the settings app.

Clean Off Your Home Screens Apps

You also might want to think about cleaning up your home screen. The only apps you might want to keep on your home screen are things that you really need, like your map app, your email, your banking app, and your calendar. Everything else (even email) should be put on another screen.

Stop Tapping and Type Instead

Try this. Try to get into the habit of typing what you are looking for in the search box of your phone. It is easy to simply tap an app to open it; it is much more difficult to type in the name of the app…and this gives you a second to really think about if you want to open the app or not.

Take Social Media Apps Off of the Device

You also might want to delete the social media apps off of your phone if you have a problem there. You might be shocked if you look at how many hours per week, or even day, you are spending on these apps. DELETE FACEBOOK AND TIKTOK. NOW! In my PodBroadcast “The Security Guy and CIA Spy” Peter and I discuss how social media is messing with our mental health. Social media and phone addiction are no joke.

Charge Your Phone Away from the Nightstand

Finally, utilize the “focus” settings on the iPhone, a.k.a. “Do Not Disturb”. For you android users figure it out HERE. Most of us charge our phones at night, and in general, they sit on our nightstands. This makes it very easy to grab it at any time, especially when you wake up in the morning. So, consider charging it somewhere else.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Monitoring Tracking or Spying on a Cell Phone

Do you think of yourself as a spy and wonder how you can monitor another person’s cell phone? Well, we aren’t going to tell you that here, but we will give you some information about cell phone monitoring:

phone scamTracking Cell Phones: The Legal Stuff 

In most cases, it is not legal to monitor another person’s cell phone. However, and this is NOT legal advice, if the account is in your name, or if you have some type of written permission from the person owning the phone, you can track it.

Why Would a Person Monitor a Cell Phone?

There are certainly situations where it is perfectly legal, and maybe even useful, for someone to monitor a cell phone. One of these reasons is to monitor your family. This is generally the case if you have a teenager, for instance, who has some freedom.

Another reason why you might want to consider monitoring a cell phone is if you have a person in your family who is elderly, and they use a cell phone. For instance, if your loved one has the onset of dementia, it can be a very good idea to track their phone.

It is possible, too, that a company could be tracking a phone. It is very legal, for instance, for a company to track cell phones that they own. The main reason this happens is not only to monitor employee communication, but to also locate a device if it is stolen or lost.

Sometimes Spying on a Phone is Malicious in Nature.

In a Good Morning America spot I did years back, victims speak out about how their mobile phone being bugged made them paranoid. The perpetrators acted like the puppeteers and the victims their puppets.  Check it out.

The Main Ways Cell Phones are Tracked

There are four main ways that people use to track a cell phone:

  • Via a Carrier – Most major phone carriers have a feature that allows an account owner to track a phone that is on their account. There is usually a fee for this service, and it is definitely legal. This is a good way to track a family member.
  • Via a Computer or Smartphone – You can also track a phone via an app like Find My or Find My Friends. Just remember that the phone must be connected to GPS in order for this to work.
  • Via a Third-Party App – There are also apps that allow you to trace a phone, but to make it legal, you must have access to the phone you want to track, and even own it and/or have written permission from the person who owns it. In general, both the devices used in this tracking must have the app installed for these to work. Some of these apps might have free limited features, but others only are available if you pay a fee for the service.
  • Via a Link – This is likely very illegal, and it can even get you put into jail. Hackers often put these links in emails, texts, or social media posts. To do this, the device has to be infected with spyware and malware, which is installed when the link is clicked. Hackers buy this software from the dark web.

Remember, it is not legal to track a cell phone unless you have permission from the device owner. However, every state has laws pertaining to this, so you may want to look into the laws in your state if you are considering doing any of this. That way, you know what the consequences might be.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

When is a Good Age for a Kid to Get a Smartphone?

Do you have kids who have been asking you for a smart phone? You might even know people who have kids your kids’ ages, and they have smart phones. How old is old enough for a smart phone and what age is it a good idea?

kids with smartphoneThis might sound like I’m bragging, but I’m not, people tell me ALL THE TIME “Your kids are amazing!” And then they follow up with, “My brothers kids grunt one-word answers when you ask them a question, they don’t look you in the eye, they don’t “talk” and they are always seemingly preoccupied and want to be somewhere else, whereas your kids are present, socially engaged and they actually look you in the eyes and have full blown conversations!”

My response, NO, my kids are nothing special, they are just normal. That’s how it’s supposed to be. When an entire generation of parents raise their kids on digital devices and video games, you get kids who are disconnected from other humans and grunt.

Beyond “socialization”, there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to giving your kid a smart phone, and we will look into all of this, below:

Advantages of Saying “No” to a Smart Phone

  • Kids are present, socially engaged and they actually look you in the eyes and have full blown conversations.
  • Kids will have to take notes the old-fashioned way with paper and a pencil or a computer, but this enhances learning.
  • Kids will have to communicate in non-anonymous way.
  • Eliminates the chances of being tricked by an online predator.
  • Eliminates cyberbullying and rude behavior that is usually anonymous.
  • Stops you from worrying that your kid will download inappropriate content.
  • Your kid won’t have the chance to video chat with people you don’t know.
  • Forces your kids to interact with people face to face where they can learn how to read body language.
  • You won’t have to worry about electronics stunting your kids’ social development.

Advantages of Saying “Yes” to a Smart Phone

  • Perfect for kids who are shy, socially awkward, or for those who have issues with face-to-face interactions. This however is debatable. I still say NO.
  • Kids who are not assertive in person can be more assertive online without seeming like a bully. It could also help them develop positive assertive skills. This is also debatable.
  • The kid always has a way to get help.
  • You can monitor your child’s whereabouts in real time.
  • You can connect with your child at any time by texting or calling them.
  • Kids can keep up with technology.
  • They can figure out ways to get paid using all the amazing tools the internet has to offer.

Does a Smart Phone Help to Develop Social Skills?

 Parents often wonder if a smart phone can help to develop social skills. This is a common question, and this is what we know. Before smart phones came onto the scene, many kids were having issues with social skills. We also know that many kids who have smart phones also have very good social skills.

It’s important to remember that in-person communication isn’t always the solution. A kid who is socially awkward, for instance, can speak to 1,000 people face to face and still be just as awkward in the 1,000-th conversation as they were in the first. This is also debatable.

It really might just all come down to parenting. A good parent might not have to worry about the mobile devices their kids are using because they have already laid the track for social development. This isn’t debatable. I’ll take credit!

Here are Some Solutions

 Here are some solutions to address when it’s appropriate for a kid to get a smart phone.

  • Consider a compromise. A kid who is 11 might benefit from having a phone just because you can track where they are, or they can get help very quickly if they need it.
  • You have to enforce the rules, too, such as no smart phones when having dinner, and you should be approving any app they want to download.
  • You also should have access to all of your child’s accounts, or they lose their phones.
  • You should also encourage your child to tell you, immediately, if they feel like they are being bullied.
  • There’s a time and a place. A phone isn’t a babysitter or a device to simply keep them occupied. It needs to serve a purpose.

If my older kid is on her phone, she’s being social, as in communicating with someone, because she doesn’t have social media where she’s self-aggrandizing or FOMO’ing. Or she’s using Duolingo, google it, she’s learning Spanish and Italian. Or she’s building out our father daughter project on Insta and YouTube “Minx The Pup” (subscribe) and learning how to use social creatively as a potential business tool while still maintaining a degree of anonymity and still being social.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

How to Kick Your Mobile Phone Addiction

Most of us know about the tricks that advertisers play when trying to get our attention. What you might not realize, however, is that our mobile phone and other digital objects are doing something similar, and you are probably falling for it every time.

One thing that designers do is use the color red for notifications. Why? Because red triggers a natural emotional response, and that makes us want to swipe or click. This also can easily make us feel “attached” to our phones, and addiction to phones and things like social media, are very real. Don’t get caught up in this; here are some tips to help you kick your mobile phone addiction:

Turn Off Your App Notifications

Notifications are helpful, and sometimes, they are very important. However, most app notifications are not. These are the ones that are designed to get you to interact with your app. For instance, if you get a Facebook notification that someone posted something to your wall, you are likely going to check it immediately. Turn those off and check your apps when you have time.

Screen Time

In your Setting menu seek “Screen Time” and scroll through to see how much time you are spending on various apps. You can set tis up to be notified daily, but that’s also another distraction. If your Screen Time settings are telling you that you are excessively on social media, gaming, or activities that are simply mind numbing, unproductive, and might be considered addictive behaviors, stop.

Go Gray

As mentioned, color plays with our minds, and app developers know this. So, consider making your phone screen black and white, called Grayscale. On the iPhone, you can do this in the Settings app.

Clean Up Your Home Screen

You should also consider cleaning up your home screen. Only keep things you need like your calendar, map app, and email. Everything else should be moved to another screen.

Type, Don’t Tap

Also, try to get into the habit of typing in the search box for apps you want to open instead of tapping them. This gives you a second to consider if you really want to get involved with the app.

Remove Social Media Apps

You might want to take off the social media apps you have on your phone, too. You will be shocked by how much time you spend on those apps if you are like most people. You can always check later on a computer or by typing it into your browser.

Charge Your Phone Away from Your Bed

Most of us charge our phones overnight, and more often than not, we do it right on our nightstand. This makes it very easy and tempting to grab it and start using it. So, consider keeping it out of the bedroom at night.

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity Protection security awareness training program.

SIM Swapping: What You Need to Know

Have you heard of SIM swapping? It’s a new trick that hackers are using to get money and mess up your life.

What is SIM Swapping?

So, what is SIM swapping? It’s when a hacker tricks your cell phone company into thinking that you have activated your SIM card on another phone. In other words, the hackers are taking your phone number and then associating it with a different SIM card. If the switch is a success, your device will be deactivated, and all of your phones, texts, data, and more will come to the hacker. This means, of course, that the hacker could get access to any account, including your bank account, and could even totally lock you out of your accounts.

How the SIM Swap Scam is Identified

A hacker doesn’t need your device to do a SIM swap. It can all be done remotely, as long as they can convince your service provider to do it. How do they convince your service provider? They give them information about you, such as your birthday, Social Security number, or account number. They can easily get this information from your mail, email, or account.

So, how do you know if you have been the target of a SIM swap? Generally, it’s when you see weird behavior from your phone, like the inability to send texts or make calls for no reason.

Preventing a SIM Swap

There are a number of things that you can do to prevent a SIM swap. Here are some tips:

  • Start with your online mobile account –Bad guys accessing your online mobile account can own you easily. Set up two factor and use a hard to crack
  • Watch for Phishing – Most scammers get the information they need to SIM swap by using phishing emails. These are fake emails that are sent to potential victims, and might have weird links, fake login screens, or other methods for tricking people into giving up their info.
  • Don’t Share Your Info Online – Another thing to do is to watch what you share online. Scammers can also get information from what people share with others on social media, etc.
  • Protect Your Accounts – Check all of your accounts for security and consider doing things like setting up two-factor authentication, hard to guess passwords, and think about unlinking your phone from your accounts.

Are You a Victim of a SIM Swap?

If you are a victim of a SIM swap, there are certain things you can do:

  • Contact law enforcement, your bank, the three credit bureaus, and your cell phone provider.
  • Change all of your passwords, especially Venmo, PayPal, and any account that is tied to your phone number. Make sure that confirmations are NOT sent to your phone number.
  • If, for any reason, you cannot log into your account, you should contact customer service of the company ASAP and give them a heads up about what happened.

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity Protection security awareness training program.

Make Your Mobile a Tough Target for Thieves

You should definitely pay attention to your mobile phone security. Most of us don’t, which makes it easy for hackers and ID thieves to target us. Here are some tips to protect yourself from becoming a target for thieves.


Use a Passcode

One of the easiest ways to ensure that you are not a target for thieves is to use a passcode. All mobile phones have a built-in passcode option, and if you have an iPhone you can even set a passcode if it has been stolen by using the Find My iPhone feature.

Use Face ID or Touch ID

To make your iPhone even safer, you can use Face ID if you have the iPhone X or Touch ID on other iPhone versions. This is much stronger than using a passcode.

Set up Find My iPhone

If your iPhone gets stolen or you lose it, you can use the Find My iPhone app. This is a free app that is built into the iCloud. It uses GPS to show where your iPhone is at any time, as long as GPS is enabled. For Androids set up Find My Device to accomplish similar tasks.

Look at Your Privacy Settings

You should also take a look at your privacy settings. Your data is extremely important and there are threats all of the time. Fortunately, you can set your privacy settings to make it tough for people to get into it. Depending on your phone OS, seek out built in privacy, location, encryption and VPN settings.

Should You Get Antivirus Software for Your iPhone?

You might think that you can make your phone safer by adding antivirus software. Yes, it’s very important to have anti-virus software for your computer, but you don’t need it on your iPhone, but definitely do need it for your Android. Do a search on Google Play, there are plenty.

Stop Jailbreaking (iPhone) or “Rooting” (Android) Your Device

Another way to keep your phone safe is to stop jailbreaking. A lot of people like jailbreaking because it gives more freedom to customize your phone how you want. You can also download apps that Apple has not approved of. However, jailbreaking your phone can cause it to become more open to hackers, too, which could really be devastating.

Encrypt All Backups

When you sync your iPhone to your computer, it holds data for your as a backup. This way, if you ever need it, you can get it easily. However, this also means that this data could be open to hackers if your computer ever gets hacked. So, it’s always best to make sure that you encrypt all backups. You can do this in iTunes with only a few additional steps.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

How to Monitor a Cell Phone

Do you fancy yourself a spy and wondering how you can monitor someone else’s cell phone? You won’t get that information here, but there is some good info on cell phone monitoring if you keep reading:

The Legalities of Tracking Cell Phones

Generally, it is not legal to monitor a cell phone that does not belong to you. However, generally speaking, and THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE, if the account is under your name or if you have written permission from the person who owns the phone, you can track it.

Why Monitor a Cell Phone?

There are some situations where it is perfectly legal, and even useful, to monitor a cell phone. One good reason is to monitor your family. This is especially the case if you have a tween or teenager who has some freedom.

Another reason you might consider monitoring a cell phone is if you have an elderly family member, like a parent, who uses a cell phone. If your loved one has dementia, you certainly should track their phone.

Businesses also often track company issued cell phones. The main reasons to do this is to locate a device if it is ever lost or stolen and to monitor employee communications.

The Main Ways to Track a Cell Phone

There are three different ways that people track cell phones:

  • Through the Cell Phone Carrier – Most major cell phone carriers offer a feature that allows a person to track a cell phone that is on their account. There is a fee for this service, it is totally legal, and it’s a great way to track family members.
  • Through a Smartphone or Computer– If you have a smart phone that runs iOS or Android, you can use features like Find My iPhone, or you can use apps like Find My Friends. Just keep in mind that the phones must have GPS enabled for these to work.
  • Though a Third-Party App – To trace a phone through an app, you usually have to have access to the phone you want to track AND own it and/or written permission from the phone’s owner. Typically, both devices must have the app loaded for these apps to work. Some of these apps are free for limited features. Others come with a one-time or monthly payment for the service.
  • Through an Infected email or Text Link – This is pretty much illegal and might get you stint in the klink. Pulling this off requires special malware or spyware which can be obtained on the dark web for a price. That will mean you’d got from being legal to the seedy world of Blackhats. And as they say, once you go black, you never go back. You would then officially be a criminal.

In most cases, it is not legal to trace or track a cell phone unless you have permission from the owner. However, each state has their own laws, so it’s very important that you understand the laws in the state you live. This way, you can avoid any repercussions.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

How to Block Spammy Scammy Telemarketing Calls

Are you getting a lot of scammy, spammy telemarketing calls? If you are, you know how annoying they are. Fortunately, there are some apps out there that can help. Here are a few apps worth looking into:


You can use CallApp to lookup numbers, and then decide if you want to answer it or not. It collects data from users, and then gives you this information when a call comes in. You can get CallApp Crawler for Android phones.

Call Control

This app offers reverse look up, call blocking, and it can even blacklist any unwanted texts, too. It is very easy to use, and it relies on the community to collect spam numbers and submit them to the company. You can get Call Control on iOS and Android phones.

Calls Blacklist

You can use Calls Blacklist to block calls, but there are also other features like scheduling ability or filtering by number prefix. This means you can block numbers that start with a certain combination of numbers, i.e. 803. This app is only available for those with Android phones.


Hiya used to be just a reverse look up method, but now it also blocks calls and offers caller ID. This app has access to more than three billion records, but like TrueCaller, your number also goes onto that list. You can get Hiya for both iPhone and Android phones.

Norton Mobile Security

Norton Mobile Security is not necessarily a call blocking app. Instead, it’s a security app that has call blocking as one of its features. This app is perfect for anyone who wants a full security suite on their mobile phone. You can get this app for both iOS and Android.

Safest Call Blocker 

Though Safest Call Blocker is simple, it is quite effective at blocking any unwanted numbers coming from robots or telemarketers. Currently, this app is only available for those who use an Android phone.

Should I Answer?

This app blocks calls, looks up numbers, and then categorizes them for easy filtering. It tracks about 500,000 numbers and is available for both iPhone and Android.


TrueCaller is a popular app, and it holds more than two billion phone numbers. This makes it great at identifying a spammy number. The one caveat of TrueCaller is that it adds your number to the list of numbers it tracks. You can get it for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and even BlackBerry.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Beware of Rogue Cell Phone Charging Stations

Humans have evolved a new body part: the cell phone. One day it will be part of anatomical illustrations of the body in health and medical books probably an appendage on your head. I’m not a Dr. so don’t quote me.

For now, we have to figure out a way to keep this appendage juiced up without being lured into a data-sucking battery-charge station.

There’s even a name for this kind of crime: juice jacking. The kiosk is designed to appear like a legitimate battery charging station, when in fact, it will steal your phone’s data while it’s hooked up.

Worse yet, sometimes the thief will set the station to deposit malware into your phone. The crook will then have access to all the sensitive information and images that you have on the device.

These fraudulent stations are often set up at locations where users would be in a rush and won’t have time to check around for signs of suspicion or even think about the possibility of getting their personal life transferred out of their phone and into the hands of a stranger.

Are these thieves smart or what?

But you can be smarter.

Prevent Juice Jacking

  • Before leaving your house, make sure your phone is fully charged if possible.
  • Buy a second charger that stays with you or in your car at all times, and make a habit of keeping your phone charged while you drive.
  • Of course, there will be times when you’re out and about, and before you realize it, your device has gotten low on power. And it’s time to hunt for a public charging station.
  • Have a cord with you at all times. This will enable you to use a wall socket.
  • Turn off your phone to save batt. But for many people, this will not happen, so don’t just rely only on that tactic.
  • Plug your phone directly into a public socket whenever you can.
  • If you end up using the USB attachment at the station, make a point of viewing the power source. A hidden power source is suspicious.
  • If bringing a cord with you everywhere is too much of a hassle, did you know you can buy a power-only USB cord on which it’s impossible for any data to be transferred?
  • Another option is an external battery pack. This will supply an addition of power to your device.
  • External batteries, like the power-only USB cord, do not have data transfer ability, and thus can be used at any kiosk without the possibility of a data breach.
  • Search “optimize battery settings” iPhone or Android and get to work.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.