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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 CreditParent.com, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity Protection security awareness training program.

How to Prevent your Devices From Spying on You

You might not realize it, but your electronic devices may be tracking you. They know what you are doing, what you are reading, and the things you like to do. In almost every case, you give these devices permission to collect this info when you start using them. Here are some tips to help you prevent your devices from spying on you:

Laptops

Macs

If you are using a macOS computer, you can limit the information you are sending to Apple by choosing the Apple menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy. Click the “Privacy” tab, and then you will see options about what apps can use and share data. If you click “Analytics,” you can do even more. Also, keep in mind that if you install a new app, you have to do those updates, too.

Windows

If you use Windows, you can limit the info you share by going to “Settings,” and then clicking on “Privacy.” You can enable and disable settings for each app. Again, any new apps that you install must be taken care of separately.

Chromebook

Google collects a ton of data, so Chromebook users should pay attention. Got to My Activity, and then delete what you want. You can also turn off some of the data collecting by clicking “Manage your Google Activity,” and then “Go to Activity Controls.”

Phones

You can do similar things to stop data collecting on your phone, too.

iOS

If you have an iPhone, there is a Privacy setting in the Settings menu. Open it, and then click on “Analytics,” to see what you share with Apple. If you don’t want to share this, simply toggle it all off. You can go back to “Privacy,” and then take a look at what the settings are for every app you have downloaded to your phone.

Android

If you have an Android phone, you can choose Google, then go to “Personal Info & Privacy.” Choose the “Activity Controls” screen, and then pick and choose what you want to share. Again, you have to also go to change settings for each app, too.

Fitness Trackers

Your fitness tracker is also spying on you. Apps like Strava and FitBit can be controlled through the Settings and Privacy options on your phone. You can do more, though:

Strava

Click on “Menu,” if you have Android or “More,” if you have iOS. Choose “Settings,” and then “Privacy Controls.”

FitBit

With FitBit, tap your profile, and then your account name. Tap “Personal Stats,” and then “Settings” followed by “Privacy.”

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

How a Wi-Fi Hacker Snoops on Your Laptop and Mobile

You have likely heard of the dangers of using unsecure public Wi-Fi, so you know that hackers are out there snooping. It is pretty easy to hack into a laptop or mobile device that is on a public Wi-Fi connection with no protection. Hackers can read your emails, steal passwords, and even hijack your website log ins.

Let’s imagine that you are in a local coffee shop with your laptop. All someone has to do is download a wireless network analyzer, which usually has a free trial, and with the right hardware and additional software they can often see what everyone is viewing online…unless they are protected. In some cases they can also read your emails that are going out and received, as well as texts you might be sending. Scary, right?

Tips on How to Use a Wi-Fi Hotspot Safely

You now know what you are up against when you connect to a public Wi-Fi spot, but you should also know that you can use them with some safety in mind. Here are some tips:

  • When you log onto a website, only use an encrypted connection. This means use the URL that begins with HTTPS, not HTTP. Keep an eye on that as you move from page to page because some sites will send you to an unsecured page, which makes you vulnerable.
  • There are also many websites out there that will allow you to encrypt your browsing session automatically. Facebook, for instance, has this. To turn it on, go to your “Security” settings on the site, and then enable “Secure Browsing.”
  • If you are going to check your email, login to your web browser and then ensure that your connection to your email client is encrypted. (Check by looking at HTTPS). If you are using Outlook, or another email client, make sure that your settings are set for encryption.
  • Don’t use any service that is not encrypted when you are on a public Wi-Fi connection.
  • Consider using a VPN when you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi connection. There is a small fee for this, but it’s well worth it.
  • Beware of “evil twins” which are rogue networks designed to mimic legitimate networks. Example “ATT WiFi” my be “Free ATT WiFi”. Other than downloading special software that detects evil twins, the best case is to ask someone who’s knowledgeable as to which network is the safest.
  • If you are on a private network, make sure you realize that they are also vulnerable. Anyone who knows how can spy on the network. Again, use WPA or WPA2 security so the connection is encrypted. However, if someone guesses or knows the password, they can still spy on any device that is connected

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of CreditParent.com, 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 CreditParent.com, 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:

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.