Despite the fact that our lives are becoming increasingly more reliant on digital technologies, most of us are still largely unaware of the various threats online. There is one simple idea that people should understand; you are responsible for the protection of your data. Security breaches in major companies are not uncommon at all, unfortunately.
Major attacks and threat statistics
Recently, Yahoo revealed that a data breach in August 2013 had compromised more than 1 billion user accounts. Earlier in September, they also revealed that a data breach sometime in late 2014 gave hackers access to data from more than 500 million accounts. In November, Friend Finder Networks also announced a breach with a resulting leak of over 412 million accounts.
Threats in the online world at constant and entirely unrelenting. Poor security is the number one reason for such breaches and they do not only occur at the enterprise level. In the mobile world, trends are largely the same. Securelist reports that Kaspersky Lab alone detected 3,626,458 malicious installation packages in Q2 2016 alone. One of McAfee’s latest reports indicates very similar findings.
Major security companies like them constantly warn of the rising threat levels. Unfortunately, the vast majority of users ignore these types of warnings. SplashData’s annual list of ‘Worst Passwords’ is shocking, after all.
Protecting against mobile attacks
As a single user, you may think that there is nothing to do to protect yourself against data breaches like the ones I mentioned above. The truth, however, is that you would be mistaken. While you cannot stop attacks from happening, you can at least minimize the risk posed to you as a user.
1. Use password managers
This is, by far, the easiest thing you can do to protect yourself. Instead of reusing the same passwords in every service, just use a password manager. This way, you will be able to have an unlimited number of strong, randomly generated passwords. And the best part is that you will only have to remember one of them.
Coming up with a strong password is much easier than you might think. Those randomly generated passwords that you might have come across probably look like this: &s9-vf(32*[q2. While this is obviously a strong password, it is impossible to remember.
Instead of that, simply come up with a sentence and turn it into a password. For instance, the sentence ‘Cheesecake is the best dessert’ could be turned into ‘CheesecakeTheB3stDessert’ or something similar. And yes, that way you will have a very strong password on your hands.
2. Enable multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication for important things like email addresses and bank accounts should be a no-brainer. That way, your phone will become a security device on its own.
3. Phishing and social engineering
Even secure systems can easily fall prey to human error. An example of phishing would be a fake website for your bank posing as the real one. And while regular people are less likely to fall victims of social engineering, you should always be aware of your rights and never share sensitive information unless you are in control of the situation.
4. Protect your device
Both Android and iOS make it extremely easy to protect your device. Both Google and Apple are heavily invested in you, after all. Use a pin, password, or pattern lock. Install security updates as soon as possible. Take advantage of security services and secure apps like encrypted messaging services. Do not perform sensitive actions while you are using a public Wi-Fi.
Protecting ourselves against mobile attacks can be daunting but it is far from impossible. Once you actually get into the habit of securing your accounts, you will feel extremely vulnerable without these extra steps. The threat levels are only going to rise as we move forward and it is high time that we understood how to protect ourselves in a more effective manner.