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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:

CallApp

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

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

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.

Does Your Mobile Have Spyware on It?

You have a mobile phone, you might think it’s pretty safe, but what you might not realize is that these devices can have spyware on them. Keep in mind, many of the “signs” listed below are everyday normal phone behaviors. But combined, might mean spyware. Here are some of the signs:

Unusual Background Noise

While common, humming, static, or other weird noises could be a sign that someone is tapping your line. Though all phones might have strange noises from time to time, you should check if there are other signs if you notice them. This is especially the case if you hear them when your phone is not in use.

Short Battery Life

Also common, another sign of a hacked phone is a short battery life. If you notice that your battery is suddenly losing power, it’s possible that there is malicious software running in the background. But don’t panic….yet.

Try Shutting it Down

If something seems weird with your mobile phone, try shutting it down. Watch how it reacts when you shut it down. Phones that have been hacked often won’t shut down correctly or never shut down, even though you tell it to. Still, a common issues with mobiles.

Look for Suspicious Activity

If you notice something suspicious, like your phone turning on or off by itself or apps getting installed or deleted, someone might have hacked it. Other suspicious signs that someone has hacked your phone include strange text messages that contain random letters or numbers. You might see pop-up ads or other issues, too.

Check for any Electronic Interferences

Though it might not be uncommon to get interference from other electronics, such as a computer, another phone, or even a television, it shouldn’t happen if you are not on a call. If it does, it could be a sign of something malicious, for instance, someone listening in on your phone calls.

Look at Your Phone Bill

If your phone bill shows more text or data usage than you typically use, it might be a sign that your mobile phone is hacked. Things like spyware can cause your data to rise, and this could definitely cause your bill to rise. However, keep in mind, if you just downloaded a new app, this could be the cause of your data usage. Also, make sure that no one in your home is using the data, such as your kids, who are notorious for this.

Use Caution when Downloading New Apps

Finally, when you download a new app, make sure they are safe. Most apps from the App Store or Google Play are safe, but occasionally, a malicious app will sneak in. If an app asks for access to your contact list, call history, or address book, use caution.

If you ever suspect spyware, back up your apps and reset the device back to factory then reinstall everything. Keep in mind, unless an iPhone is “jailbroken” spyware is unlikely. But with Androids, spyware is serious. Install antivirus on Androids.

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 Stop Your Cellphone from Getting Hacked

If you are like most of us, you probably have a password, antivirus program, and a firewall for your home computer to protect it from hackers. Are you doing the same thing for your phone?

From 2015 to 2016 malware infections on smartphones swelled by 96%, and about 71% of the smartphones out there do not have any software at all to protect them. What does that mean for you? It means the odds are against you when it comes to getting your phone hacked. Luckily, there are some things you can do to protect your mobile phone from hackers:

  • Update Your Operating System – Many people skip updates for some reason. Don’t put it off. Most of these updates contain security fixes that your old operating system didn’t have.
  • Put a Lock On It – If your phone doesn’t have a passcode on it, it’s like leaving the front door of your home open for burglars. Hackers will get in; it’s just a matter of time. If you can, use a biometric method, like a swipe or finger tap. In addition, set up a good passcode. Make sure it’s totally unique and nothing a hacker can guess, like your address or birthday.
  • Use Caution with Public Wi-Fi – Public Wi-Fi is great, in theory, but it can also be dangerous, as it is very easy for hackers to access your info. It’s usually pretty safe to use a public Wi-Fi connection for things like catching up on the news or watching a movie, but don’t put any personal information into your device such as your banking password or credit card number.
  • Check Up On Your Apps – Hackers often use phone apps to access data. So, to make sure you are really safe, make sure to delete any apps that you aren’t using regularly. An outdated app can be dangerous, too, so make sure to always update when one is available. Also, only download apps from reputable sources like Google Play and iTunes.
  • Use a VPN – Finally, use a VPN, or virtual private network. This will encrypt your information when you use it over a public network. They are free or cheap, usually $5 to $30, and that small investment is definitely worth it for your safety.

Robert Siciliano 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.

Mobile SIMs Hacks Cause Concern

A crook can steal your identity by taking control of your wireless phone account—by pretending to be you in person at the mobile store. The villain can then buy pricey mobiles and sell them—and guess who gets the bill but not the profit.

4DSymptoms of Hijacked Account

  • Suddenly losing service
  • Your carrier says you went to a store, upgraded a few phones, then shut down your old device.
  • Or, the rep will straight-out ask if the problem is with your new iPhone—even though you never purchased one.
  • You were never at the store and never authorized any account changes.

If this happens to you, says an article at nbc-2.com, you’ll need to visit the carrier’s local store, show your ID and get new SIM cards. The carrier absorbs the costs of the stolen new phones.

But it’s not as simple as it sounds. What if in the interim, you need to use your phone—like during an emergency or while conducting business? Or your phone goes dead just as your teen calls and says she’s in trouble?

The thief, with a fake ID, waltzes into a store that does not have tight owner-verification protocols, and gets away with changing the victim’s account and buying expensive phones.

The nbc-2.com report says that this crime is on the increase and is affecting all four of the major mobile carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint.

Here’s another thing to consider: The thief may keep the new phone, which still has your number, to gain access to your online accounts via the two-factor authentication process—which works by sending a one-time numerical text or voice message to the accountholder’s phone.

The thief, who already has your online account’s password, will receive this code and be able to log into the account. So as innocuous as stolen phones may seem, this can be a gateway to cleaning out your bank account. The thief can also go on a shopping spree with mobile phone based shopping.

We’re all anxiously waiting for mobile carriers to upgrade their store security so that people just can’t strut in and get away with pretending to be an accountholder. Biometrics come to mind. Photo IDs are worthless.

In the meantime, accountholders can create a PIN or password that’s required prior to changing anything on the account.

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.

Eight ways to secure your employees’ mobile devices

Between half and three quarters of all employees have downloaded personal apps to company tablets and phones, according to surveys. At the same time, people are increasingly using use personal phones for work purposes like email, document-sharing and the list goes on.

2DWhat does it all mean? Companies must take extra precautions to ensure that sensitive data doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

Protecting your data

Fortunately, there are several steps that a business owner can take to protect the information on employees’ mobile devices. Here are some tips:

  1. Make sure all devices are password protected.
  2. Require all employees to use an “erase data” function after a certain number of failed password attempts.
  3. Make sure all devices used for business purposes have a “wipe” ability. This allows you to wipe the information on the phone remotely in case it is stolen.
  4. Make sure your staff installs any security patches or updates that become available. These are often published due to security vulnerabilities.
  5. Employees should only download software from approved application providers with solid reputations.
  6. Antivirus protection must be a requirement for Androids.
  7. Make sure employees are discerning about the websites they visit and the links they click on. Too many clicks may lead them to a malicious site that could put data at risk. This also applies to e-mail and text messages.
  8. Employees should know that Wi-Fi is not secure. This is especially true of public Wi-Fi connections. To help guard their information, consider using a virtual private network service.

It doesn’t take much to secure the info your staff needs to do their jobs. A few simple strategies can provide a protective shield that will keep your company’s information safe, no matter where employees find themselves.

Consultant Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft prevention. Learn more about Carbonite’s cloud and hybrid backup solutions for small and midsize businesses. Disclosures.

How to shop securely with a Mobile Phone

“You can buy things with your phone!” No kidding! But imagine what the response would have been had you made this statement in 1984: “Off your meds, eh?”

7WPurchasing via the smartphone may very well eclipse the popularity of shopping via laptop. And cyber thieves know this. They’re counting on you to slip up.

  • Never click a link inside an e-mail, even if the subject line is a warning or alert to a fabulous sale. Cyber crooks know that the small screens on mobiles can easily hide tell-tale signs of scam e-mails, people are especially vulnerable to subject lines blaring great deals.
  • If you’re too tempted to ignore the great deal, then visit the merchant’s site by typing their name into the search engine rather than clicking the link inside the e-mail! That link could lead to a virus download.
  • Never use public Wi-Fi (e.g., at the airport or hotel) to shop. Stick to your phone’s mobile broadband network or at a minimum use a virtual private network (VPN).
  • When shopping with your phone, use a credit card, never a debit.
  • When using your phone, make sure nobody is spying. This really happens; it’s called visual hacking. It can even be done with the crook’s phone—capturing on video the sensitive information you’re entering on your phone.
  • You accidentally mis-type the URL of a major retailer (but don’t know it), and you end up on their site. It’s called typo squatting. How is this possible? The site is the crook’s. He knows people will commit typos and he takes advantage of this: owning a website that mocks the real one, and you’re lured into “buying” off of it—entering your credit card or PayPal information—which he then has. And he knows you won’t pick up that the site is an imposter because your phone’s screen is so small.
  • Keep the phone’s software updated.
  • Deactivate autosave logins.
  • Your phone contains so much sensitive information about you and your family, financial data, maybe medical history, etc. What if a crook gets ahold of it? Set up a personal identification number (PIN) for login.

Download only from official app stores: Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon. Don’t download from third-party vendors.

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

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.