Traditionally, smartphone hacking was a concern mainly for celebrities. However, this issue has become a legitimate concern for anyone with a cell phone. It is no longer just a problem for VIPs.
But how serious is this problem for regular people? Is the content of our voicemail messages so interesting that someone would invade our privacy to listen to them? Before we assume that this is just an issue of narcissism, it is important to understand what phone hacking entails and whether it is something that we need to worry about.
The Security Risks of Phone Hacking
There are many different methods of phone hacking. These can range from hacking into a live conversation or voicemail to accessing data stored on a smartphone. While the fear of the unknown can be unsettling, it is essential to note that someone you already know is most likely to hack into your live conversation or voicemail. In today’s world, where people increasingly store sensitive data on their mobile devices, phone hacking is becoming a growing security issue. The opportunity to exploit privacy weaknesses is becoming more tempting for unscrupulous individuals such as frenemies, exes or even strangers.
There exists a cottage industry of phone hacking software. These programs are ostensibly developed for legal purposes, but anyone can easily abuse them. Examples of such password-cracking software include John the Ripper and Cain and Abel. Opportunistic hackers can cause significant damage by deleting data or installing malicious software that gathers sensitive information, such as bank account logins and confidential business emails. So, what can you do to make things more difficult for hackers?
If you want to take a proactive approach to protecting your phone from hackers, there are several measures you can take. Many of these involve using common sense, but there are also advanced methods to ensure your phone is as secure as possible without losing its full functionality.
Some basic phone security tips that can help block simple hacking efforts include:
- Never leave your phone unattended. Always keeping your phone with you in public is the first, best rule to follow.
- Change your phone’s default passcode. Your phone likely comes with a simple, predictable default password, and those who know can use this to their advantage. Change your code to something more complex, and resist the usual “1234,” “0000” and “2580” codes that are commonly used.
- Manage your Bluetooth Security. Avoid unprotected Bluetooth networks, and turn off your Bluetooth service when you aren’t using it.
- Protect your PIN and Credit Card data. Use a protected app to store PIN numbers and credit cards, or better yet, don’t store them in your phone at all.
Advanced Ways to Prevent Phone Hacking
- Avoid unsecured public WiFi. Hackers often target essential locations such as bank accounts via public WiFi that can often be unsecured due to relaxed safety standards or even none at all.
- Turn off your autocomplete feature. Doing this can prevent stored critical personal data from being accessed.
- Regularly delete your browsing history, cookies, and cache. Removing your virtual footprint is important in minimizing the data that prying eyes can harvest.
- Have an iPhone? Enable Find My iPhone. By turning the feature on in your settings, you’ll be able to locate your phone if you misplace it before the hackers can lay their paws on it.
- Use a security app that increases protection. For Android owners, Webroot offers the all-in-one Mobile Security for Android app that provides antivirus protection and allows you to remotely locate, lock up and wipe your phone in the event you lose track of it. For iOS users, Webroot also offers a free secure web browser for increased mobile security on your iPhone and iPad.