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Cell Phone Courtesy is Cybersecurity

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Blog topics:  Archive

By Chetrice Mosley-Romero

Cell phones, or what we now refer to as smartphones or mobile devices, have become increasingly integral to the way we communicate (and so much more) with our friends, family, and co-workers.

In 2011, only 35 percent of adults had smartphones. Ten years later, it has skyrocketed to 85 percent. Smartphones have also fundamentally changed how we communicate on our phones. While the primary avenue of communication used to be calling and texting each other, smartphones with internet access have allowed us to facetime, email on our phones, use social media, as well as many other methods to communicate.

With this month being National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, it is time to review our mobile phone habits, and one habit that we should not be overlooking is protecting our mobile devices from cybercriminals.

Here’s the thing. Although it’s true that smartphones have improved our ways of communication, they’ve also given cybercriminals another vector to steal our information. In 2021, Checkpoint (a renowned security firm) published in its Mobile Security Report that 40 percent of mobile devices were prone to cyberattacks. They also noted that the most common attacks were phishing attempts and downloading malicious applications. These findings are something to be wary of, but there are a few simple cybersecurity tips we can use to protect ourselves and those we communicate with using our smartphones.

CISA published these cybersecurity tips you can follow, including:

  • Use strong passwords. Change any default passwords to one that’s hard to guess, but easy for you to remember. Use different passwords for different programs and devices. (Pro Tip: download a reputable password manager to help you with complex passwords and safely store them.
  • Keep software up to date. Install updates as soon as they are released. This will prevent attackers from exploiting known vulnerabilities.
  • Disable remote connectivity. When wireless and Bluetooth technologies are not in use, disabling those features is a good practice to follow and limits bad actors from accessing your phone when you are out and about.
  • Be careful what you post and when. Cybercriminals can use your social media information in targeted phishing attacks. They can also see when you are not at home.
  • Guard your mobile device. Physical security is as important as cybersecurity. Never leave your device unattended.
  • Know your apps. Review applications before downloading. Applications could contain malicious software that can release your personal information. Delete any apps that are not needed to increase your security.

And as with your personal computer, make sure you do not click on any suspicious links that are sent to your phone. Phishing and social engineering attacks have become more elaborate and being mindful while you browse the internet on your mobile device or random texts you may receive will help you remain secure.

While these tips are here to protect you, how can we be courteous to the people around us? We can help prevent the spread of disinformation.

Disinformation is false or inaccurate information that is deliberately spread with malicious intent. The next time you find something outlandish or hard to believe on social media or as part of an email or even a text message, make sure you verify the information is true with credible sources before sharing with your friends and family or your co-workers, including your boss.

As you think about the habits you rely on or use with your mobile device, be sure to follow these tips to keep your smartphone secure and protect your personal information. We increasingly rely on our smartphones to communicate with our friends and family. Now, we must also be increasingly aware and courteous to each other in person and online.