A smartphone without apps is not much different from a corded phone. Tracking your fitness progress, ordering a taxi, learning Spanish, editing pictures — we have an app for everything. It also brings mobile security challenges that every user has to be aware of. Luckily, you can face them with some common sense and tips from the NordPass team.
Download apps only from official sources
If you own an iPhone, download the apps only from the App Store, if you have a Samsung, Huawei, or another Android phone, head to the Play Store. Avoid downloading apps from unknown sources as it can open a way to malware, Trojan horses, and spyware.
Malicious apps can also reside on official stores: always check the reviews, read about the developers, and search for more information. Apple holds a tight grip on its store, and the chance of getting a shady app there is lower than on the Play Store. However, it still can happen.
Double-check the app permissions
Apps are always asking for permission to access your camera, contacts, location, or storage. We often tap Allow without even questioning the reasons behind those requests. If a simple calculator wants to access your location, that should raise your suspicion.
An app that seems legitimate can spy on you in the background, drawing a detailed picture of your habits and selling it to the highest bidder.
We suggest you walk through the app permissions on your phone and change them if needed.
Update your system
Updates are boring: they take time and pop-up when you expect them the least. While it’s tempting to postpone them for later, we recommend not to turn this into a bad habit. Developers update apps and operating systems for a reason: they fix bugs, increase security, and improve your device performance.
Hackers are always searching for app vulnerabilities — by updating on time, we stay one step ahead of them.
Use a password manager
Nothing can be worse than using the same password for all the accounts as thousands of user credentials appear for sale on the dark web every day. If some website gets hacked and your logins end up online, criminals could check if they fit your other accounts.
We recommend using a password manager, such as NordPass, to generate strong passwords, store them securely, and autofill online forms. NordPass works across different platforms, so you can access your passwords from any device.
Limit your personal information on social media
All tech experts agree that you should think twice before uploading personal information on social media. Email, phone number, home address, or even office location can be used to steal your identity.
Services like Facebook also chase you across the internet, tracking everything you do and making sure they show you the right ads. The more information you provide, the more frustrating it gets as Facebook is well known for sharing data with advertisers.
We tend to log into third-party apps with Facebook giving up our sensitive information without a blink. You can avoid that by closely reviewing your Facebook settings and changing them if necessary.
Use built-in device protection
Smartphones come with built-in security features that protect users and their data, such as iPhone’s Find My Phone and Android’s Find My Device. Depending on the phone brand, you can remotely wipe data, turn on lockdown mode, or even have your apps scanned. While most of these features are enabled by default, it's a good idea to see if you haven’t turned them off by accident.
Mobile security starts with your home screen — always use a strong PIN to unlock your phone. Many people still believe that 1234 will stop wrongdoers from getting into their devices.
Avoid charging your phone in public places
It might come as a surprise, but public USB charging ports and cables found in airports, buses, or shopping malls might not be safe to use. Hackers can infect your phone with malware or steal your data, including passwords, photos, and contacts.
This type of cyber attack is known as a juice jacking and occurs because USB is not only a power socket but also a technology to transfer files. And you may not have the slightest idea that your phone has been hacked. Until one day, you discover that somebody just spent $2000 on your Uber account in a foreign country.
Apps are fun to use: they save time and make our lives easier. But it’s important to remember that all the benefits come with a risk. You can improve your mobile security with some know-how, a right attitude, and the help from our cybersecurity experts.