How to protect your Mobile Phone from Hackers and Thieves

Let’s cut to the chase:

  • Regularly back up the phone’s data! If this is done every day, you won’t have to worry much about losing important information if something happens to the phone—such as a ransomware attack.
  • Keep the phone’s software and applications updated.
  • Delete apps you no longer use, as these can reveal your GPS coordinates and garner data about you.
  • Never post about your vacation while you’re on vacation.

6WBut there’s more:

  • Employ the device’s password-protect function (which may even be a biometric like a fingerprint).
  • If the phone has more than one type of protection, use both.  You just never know if the phone will get lost or stolen.

Public Wi-Fi

  • Never use public Wi-Fi, such as at airports and coffee houses, to make financial transactions.
  • Though public Wi-Fi is cheaper than a cellular connection, it comes with risks; hackers can barge in and “see” what you’re doing and snatch sensitive information about you.
  • If you absolutely must conduct sensitive transactions on public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network or a cellular data network.

And yet there’s more:

  • Switch off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use. Otherwise, your physical location can be tracked because the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are constantly seeking out networks to connect to.
  • Make sure that any feature that can reveal your location is turned off. Apps do collect location information on the user.
  • What are the privacy settings of your social media accounts set to? Make sure they’re set to prevent the whole world from figuring out your physical location. This is not paranoia. As long as you’re not hearing voices coming from your heating vents, you’re doing fine.
  • Are you familiar with the remote wipe feature of your mobile device? This allows you to wipe out its contents/files without the phone being in your hand—in the event it’s lost or stolen. Enable it immediately.
  • And also enable the “find my phone” feature. You may have lost it inside your car’s crevasses somewhere.

Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

I want a Cell Phone Jammer

Well, we certainly can’t blame Dennis Nicholl for breaking the law. Frankly, had I been nearby him when he did it, I would have kept silent and let him continue breaking the law—unless, of course, I was engaged in some loud, planet-moving discussion with a world leader.

5WNicholl, 63, was recently on a Chicago subway train. He brought with him a cell phone jammer. Unfortunately for Nicholl that day, Keegan Goudie was on the same train. Goudie is a blogger, noticed the infraction and began blogging about it. One thing led to another and Nicholl ended up being charged with the unlawful interference with a public utility.

Someone called 911 on him. Though Nicholl was breaking the law, arguably, he wasn’t committing any act that was putting anyone else’s life or limb in immediate danger. Or was he? I’m sure we can all get creative here.

Anyways, Nicholl’s lawyer says his client meant no life or limb danger. Like most of us, Nicholl only wanted some peace. Cell phone users tend to talk a lot louder into their phones than to people sitting right next to them. Sometimes, they’re outright obnoxious. They should be glad the infraction is only a cell phone jammer and not someone’s angry hands.

If making calls becomes allowed on airplanes in flight, it won’t be pretty. It’s bad enough when some fool talks loud while waiting for the boarding door to close. Nobody wants to hear how big the deal you are closing is or that Timmy scored a goal in soccer. Stop being a jerk.

So why is interference with a conversation via electronic device illegal, yet it’s not illegal to “jam” riders’ cell phone yakking with loud whistling, singing, loudly yakking to oneself or playing a harmonica?

Because these non-techy interference techniques can’t jam up someone’s legitimate call to 911. Nicholl’s jammer could have prevented another rider from getting through to 911 to report sudden difficulty breathing. So if you’re hell bent on using a cell phone jammer, maybe make sure first that everyone looks healthy?

The punishment is heavy. A Florida man had to cough up $48,000. Also in Florida, a teacher was suspended after jamming his students’ phones. A priest was even busted for using one in church. Ahh, technology.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to TheBestCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

Want Mobile Privacy? Read

If you don’t want your smartphone to know more about you than you do, here are top choices, as detailed on gizmodo.com:

2PBlackPhone 2

  • The Blackphone 2 will black out the federal government from spying on you.
  • Has a five inch handset with full HD screen (with Gorilla Glass 3 that prevents shoulder surfing).
  • 3 GB or RAM
  • Its Silent Circle’s PrivateOS 1.1 provides a “Spaces” UI: Data will be encrypted and compartmentalized.
  • The “Spaces” allow you to set up distinct spaces for different types of data, including a Silent Space that’s akin to Chrome’s incognito mode.
  • The Silent Suite allows you to keep various kinds of communications encrypted.
  • Also provides a Silent Store for apps.

Nokia 3310

  • This outdated “dumb phone” might still be available out there, somewhere.
  • The dumb phone is not capable of transmitting data through cyberspace. Thus, you don’t ever have to worry about being “followed,” “tracked” or hacked into.
  • If you’re comfortable not being connected to the Internet of Things, this phone is for you—if you can find one.

Payphones

  • If you want to pretty much guarantee that you’ll be untraceable, then use payphones.
  • Locate the payphones in your town and anywhere you normally travel, so that when it’s time to make a call, you won’t be spending time hunting for the phone.
  • Always have change on you, too.
  • To be even more non-traceable, always have in your car a thin pair of gloves to prevent your fingerprints from being on the phone.

Honorable Mention: Apple iPhone/Microsoft Lumia 930/Google Nexus 5

  • Apple, Microsoft and Google are no more crazier about government surveillance programs than you are.
  • Nevertheless, their phones gather data—but at least it goes to the maker of these devices rather than to the government.
  • The manufacturers analyze the data in the name of giving the user a better experience with the product.

Let’s also throw in the landline. Your calls can be traced, but at least data about you like your shopping preferences, health, income, marital status, etc., won’t go leaking out anywhere.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention

Apple’s bizarre Crashing Text and how to fix

Of all the weird things that can happen to your iOS device, the latest is a relatively benign situation in which a string of text is sent to the phone…and it causes the phone to crash.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-online-risks-sign-road-banner-image34668294The phone will reboot if the particular nonsensical text string is received while the phone is locked.

Data won’t be stolen; nobody will gain remote control of your device (yet); but heck, who wouldn’t be very annoyed that their phone crashes? And this is going on all over the world. The text characters can also be sent from any device. Apple says it will get this problem fixed.

But in the meantime, there are things you can do to undo the problem.

Mac Users

  • Reply to the gibberish text in iMessage, and the reply can be any string of text.

If you don’t have a Mac:

  • Send a text message via a third-party application by using its share feature.
  • Ask Siri to issue a reply or “read unread messages.” Then reply to free your Messages.
  • When you’re in Messages, delete the whole chain.
  • If you know who sent the crazy message, ask them to send a follow-up message.

A software update will soon be coming from Apple that will include a fix to this situation.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

How to Avoid Bad Apps

If you think there’s like a million apps out there, that’s not exactly an exaggeration. For sure, there are more than you can imagine, which makes it easy to conceive that many certainly come with security problems.

In fact, out of the top 25 most popular apps, 18 of them bombed on a security test from McAfee Labs recently.

Creators of apps put convenience and allure ahead of security. This is why so many apps don’t have secure connections—creating welcome mats for hackers; they get into your smartphone and get your passwords, usernames and other sensitive information.

Joe Hacker knows all about this pervasive weakness in the app world. You can count on hackers using tool kits to aid in their quest to hack into your mobile device. The tool kit approach is called a man-in-the-middle attack.

The “man” gets your passwords, credit card number, Facebook login information, etc. Once the hacker gets all this information, he could do just about anything, including obtaining a credit line in your name and maxing it out, or altering your Facebook information.

You probably didn’t know that smartphone hacks are becoming increasingly widespread.

bad-apps

So what can you do?

  • Stay current – Know that mobile malware is growing and is transmitted via malicious apps.
  • Do your homework – Research apps, read reviews, and check app ratings before you download.
  • Check your sources – Only download apps from well-known, reputable app stores.
  • Watch the permissions – Check what info each app is accessing on your mobile devices and make sure you are comfortable with that.
  • Protect your phone – Install comprehensive security on your mobile devices to keep them protected from harmful apps.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Safety Expert to Intel Security. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!

Mobile Apps Failing Security Tests

It’s been said that there are over a million different apps for the smartphone. Well, however many may exist, know that not all of them are passing security tests with flying colors.

5WYou may already be a user of at least several of the 25 most downloaded apps And what’s so special about the top 25? 18 of them flunked a security test that was given by McAfee Labs™ this past January. And they flunked the test four months after their developers had been notified of these vulnerabilities.

App creators’ first priority is to produce the next winning app before their competitors do. Hence, how secure it is doesn’t top the priority list, and that’s why there’s such a pervasive problem with security in the mobile app world.

Because these apps failed to set up secure connections, this opens the door for cybercriminals to snatch your personal information such as credit card numbers and passwords. And this is growing because this weakness in apps is so well known and it’s pretty easy for cybercriminals to purchase toolkits that help them infect smartphones via these vulnerable apps.

The technique is called a “man in the middle” attack. The “man” stands between you and the hacker, seizing your personal information. The “man” may capture your usernames and passwords for social media accounts and so much more—enough to open up a credit card account in your name and then max it out (guess who will get the bills); and enough to commit a lot of damage by manipulating your Facebook account.

So What Can You Do?

Here’s some tips to help you protect yourself from these unsecure apps:

  • Before purchasing an app, get familiar with its security features—read reviews and check what permissions the app is asking access to. You don’t want to end up with an app that accesses way more information about you than necessary for what you want the app for in the first place.
  • Download only from reputable app stores, not third-party vendors. This will reduce your chance of downloading a malicious app.
  • Don’t have your apps set to auto login. Even though it may be a pain when you want to access Facebook, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Make sure you use different passwords for each of your apps. Sorry, I know that’s a hassle, but that’s what you must do. And make sure your password is long and strong.

Here’s to staying safe on our mobile devices.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Safety Expert to Intel Security. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.

Don’t Believe These 6 Mobile Security Myths

Smartphones are picking up popularity. You can now access email, social media, and other things from a device that fits in your pocket (most of the time). And, although we hear about breaches and security flaws in the news, it seems like a lot of us don’t think it applies to our mobile device. Here are some of the most common mobile security myths.
5W

  1. “Antivirus protection isn’t worth it for a smartphone.” Just because this device fits in the palm of your hand doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of as much protection as your computer. It should have comprehensive security that includes, antivirus, anti-malware and anti-spyware. Think of how often and indiscriminately you use that little thing, even while you’re in between bench press sets or stuck in line somewhere. The more you use it, the more important protecting the information on it becomes.
  2. “If I lose my phone I’ll just call it to find it.” A better way to locate it is to use an app with global positioning system (GPS), like McAfee® Mobile Security. With GPS, you can see the location of your device on a map, much easier than trying to hear your ringtone.
  3. “Smartphones don’t get phishing scams.” Actually, phishing scams can occur via text (also known as SMiShing ) and social media apps. Plus, the mobile device’s smaller screen makes it harder to detect suspicious links.
  4. “Apps for my phone are safe if they’re from trusted brands.” Fraudsters can easily make a malicious app look safe, and can even find its way into a reputable app store. McAfee Labs™ found that over 80% of Android apps track you and collect your personal information. Apps are also the main way that malware can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet.
  5. “As long as my phone has PIN protection, it’s fine to have apps automatically log into my accounts.” A PIN is incomplete protection because hackers may guess the PIN code or use software to nail the four-digit sequence. You’d be surprised how many people’s PINs are 1234 or 2222. Even if you have a longer PIN or passcode on your device, it’s good practice to not have your apps automatically log you in, even though this may be convenient. You don’t want something to be able to easily access your bank accounts or post random messages on your social accounts.
  6. “SMS” adds protection. The short message service does not provide protection or monitoring of any kind. This means that text messaging is not secure and in fact, it’s often subject to spam.

Keep your mobile device safe with McAfee® Mobile Security, available on both Android and Apple devices. The Android version includes antivirus and anti-malware software, an app manager, anti-theft features, and web protection. The Apple version includes Secure Vault to protect your pictures and videos from prying eyes.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

Mobile Carriers spying on Users

How does my mobile phone know I like tools, electronic gadgets and tarantulas? It keeps showing me ads for these products! Christmas is coming and my kids like bugs, big bugs.

10DHow does it know? It’s called “supercookies”. And they aren’t yummy.

If Verizon is your carrier, that’s why. Verizon uses a “unique identifier token header” for every website the user visits. There are cookies that tag along with the user wherever they go in cyberspace. Advertisers gorge on these cookies because they tell them what products to advertise for each unique person.

You can opt out of Verizon’s program, but this won’t prevent the UIDH (this a Unique Identifier Header) from being stamped on any site you visit and then be visible to a web server.

Even Android’s and iOS’s systems can’t supersede the UIDH system. The UIDH HTTP header is not the same as a typical Internet cookie. This is a lot to digest, it is what it is.

At present, there is no opt-out technology to truly eradicate what some consider spying, and it won’t be around soon, either. And look for AT&T to think possibilities by adopting this UIDH system to track their subscribers’ web journeys.

Though there’s no opt-out-like feature to stop this, there is a way to block it: VPN (virtual private network). Some smartphones have a VPN mode; once activated it will make the user anonymous. I like Hotspot Shield (HSS), which works on Androids and iPhones, easy. And don’t twiddle your thumbs waiting for universal encryption; your toddler will be entering college by then.

If targeted ads (hey, maybe you just love those handbag adverts) don’t phase you, then consider this: Cyber thieves can get ahold of all the sensitive information you have in your phone and learn all sorts of things about you, including any sordid details. Or maybe they just want to steal your identity to drain your bank account. Everyone is being watched by everybody.

Should you worry? That all depends. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is worried. They no likey.

This is where the VPN comes in, especially if you use public Wi-Fi, which is not encrypted. HSS, which is free, will protect your data. There’s also an upgraded version that you pay for; it’s faster. Either version will guard your Internet activities from prying eyes.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

10 ways to Keep your Mobile Data safe from mCrime

A smart thief will go after smartphones: a portal through which to gain access to your money, accounts, data and social. Few people think they’re not smart enough to prevent a crime involving their precious mobile phone, but it happens to even the highly educated who think they can’t be outwitted. mCrime is big business and knowing how to protect yourself is a big deal.

5WTexts, e-mails, social media and so much more contain enormous amounts of private information. And crooks know how to get this information. One trick is to send a phishing e-mail: a scam that’s designed to sucker the recipient into giving away personal information or money. In one study, 100,000 phishing e-mails were sent out. Three thousand people responded, and of those, almost three quarters came from smartphones.

People are sloppy with guarding their smartphone, and this is how criminals infiltrate. But it doesn’t take a high IQ to beat the bad guys at their game.

  1. It’s only a matter of time before you misplace your smartphone, giving the wrong hands a chance to grab it. So protect it with a password (and a tough one to crack, like 47%R$PUy rather than 789hot). Even a great password should be changed every so often.
  2. And the greatest password on earth still shouldn’t be used for more than one account; use a different one for every single account.
  3. And speaking of misplacing it, make sure it has a locator. Add a layer of protection by having a remote-wipe capability in case the device vanishes.
  4. Regularly back up the data that’s on your smartphone.
  5. Did you know a hacker can find out where you live or work simply from the photos you’ve put up in cyberspace? They are geo-tagged, but you can disable this feature.
  6. When you’re not using the device, keep it disconnected from cyberland.
  7. When you are connected, don’t visit your bank or other places that have sensitive personal data. But ig you just have to, run a program called Hotspot Shield. This way all your data is encrypted on the wireless wild wild web.
  8. Think twice before clicking on the photo of that busty babe or chiseled stud; the image link might take you to a malicious website that will download a virus to your phone.
  9. Never open a link inside an e-mail, even if the sender seems to come from your bank or Uncle Sam. Use a password manager or manually type the url in your browser.
  10. Last but not least, regularly update your device! As cyber attacks evolve, security must keep up to patch up these new holes. Leave a hole open, and a hacker could get in and steal the information you have stored in your phone, like addresses, account numbers, anything he wants.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

Mobile Employees Are a Security Risk

Not too long ago, the office computer filled an entire room. Now, it fills the palms of one-third of employees—those workers who use only the mobile device for their jobs. Security, however, lags behind in keeping up with this growing trend. This is the BYOD generation: bring your own device (to work).

8DIT departments need to keep one step ahead of this fast-growing trend. It’s here to stay, and one reason is because it’s responsible for significantly pumping up productivity. Employers love this. More productivity = higher profits. You’d think that some of these increased profits would be reinvested in security training that correlates to the BYOD movement, since the BYOD movement strongly correlates with an increase in data breaches and risks of breaches.

But it’s not. Organizations still aren’t seeing the light.

A recent Ponemon Institute survey reveals that for a large portion of employees, the mobile device is a first-line medium for conducting business. That one-third figure mentioned earlier is forecasted to jump to 50 percent over the next 12 months.

With all the improvements in productivity comes a corresponding jump in the risks of data breaches—both intentional and accidental. The survey reveals that 52 percent of the participants said that security training for smartphones was shelved in the name of sharpening worker productivity.

Another finding: One-third of businesses don’t even have existing security programs for the BYOD’ers. About three-quarters of respondents said that their existing security was lax. And don’t think that security risks mean only computer viruses, phishing e-mail scams, being lured to malicious websites, being tricked into downloading malware, etc.

There’s a huge risk in the form of roving eyes. A “visual hacker” uses his eyes, and sometimes with the assistance of binoculars or a mobile device camera, to prowl for unguarded computer screens in public like at airports, hotels and coffee houses. He swipes sensitive data by recording it with a camera or seeing it and then writing down what he sees or even memorizing it. Workers can prevent “shoulder surfing” with the ePrivacy Filter software by the 3M company. Combine this software with a 3M Privacy Filter, and the user will be able to thwart a hacker hovering over his or her shoulder from virtually any angle.

The typical business, says the survey, handles 20,000 mobiles, and that number is fast-rising. This will heap on the pressure to implement solid security plans. Managing each device won’t be cheap, either, but a pricey stitch in time will save an obscene expense times nine.

Sixty percent of the survey takers said that mobiles have made employees rather lazy with security awareness. There’s definitely a human factor involved with all of this that businesses must address.

If employees want to use mobiles to conduct business, they should also embrace the responsibility that comes with the use of these devices—that of being willing to learn how to keep the sensitive data that’s stored in these devices safe, and also being willing to learn how to recognize social engineering and other cyber criminal tricks.

Robert Siciliano is a Privacy Consultant to 3M discussing Identity Theft and Privacy on YouTube. Disclosures.