Smartphones, tablets, and other devices keep us connected no matter where we go. They also present significant security challenges from both a professional and personal standpoint. Here are a few common threats and tips for how to avoid them:
Public WiFi poses a major threat to privacy. You can mitigate that threat by using a virtual private network (VPN)—software that encrypts your connection and prevents others from stealing your data. But even with a VPN, it’s still best to avoid accessing highly sensitive information when connected to public networks.
Out-of-date devices and software leave doors open for cybercriminals who use known vulnerabilities to install malware or steal data. Enable automatic updates wherever possible, so you’ll never miss a critical security patch.
Scammers create malicious apps—often impersonating legitimate apps—to invade privacy. Before downloading or installing any software, research the developers and confirm they are legitimate. Once installed, carefully review the permissions and security settings to ensure the app isn’t collecting more data than necessary. Always check our organization’s current policies before installing any apps or software on work-issued devices.
Public Charging Stations
Many public places now offer free USB charging stations. Unfortunately, they represent yet another way for cybercriminals to spread malware via an attack called “juice jacking,” where they compromise your device via a USB connection. Only use the USB devices and chargers that belong to you.
With messaging apps exploding in popularity, it’s no surprise that smishing—phishing via text message—attacks continue to rise. Never click on links or respond to text messages from unknown users, especially those who use threatening or urgent language.
Shoulder Surfing and Device Theft
Utilize situational awareness! When you’re in public areas or traveling, make sure no one can see your screen. Keep an eye on your belongings, and never leave desirable items in plain sight. Use discretion when discussing or accessing anything that might be deemed confidential. To avoid losing any devices or other important items, perform an inventory check before exiting public transportation, checking out of hotels, and deboarding airplanes.
- Always use a virtual private network while connected to public WiFi.
- Stay alert for phishing attacks that target you via text message.
- Keep devices and software up to date and allow automatic updates when possible.