Smartphones are an essential part of our daily lives. They handle our most personal information. The ability to perform banking operations on them significantly expanded their use case list.

But because they store vital personal information, they frequently become hacking targets. According to ZDNet, cyber attacks against mobile devices have increased by 500%. Cybercriminals more often choose to attack Android devices because Google PlayStore is a more open space compared to the Apple ecosystem.

What’s more, the Covid-19 crisis negatively impacted cybersecurity. With more people working from home, they became easier targets. Studies reveal that remote workers are more likely to use personal devices for work-related tasks. So by targeting personal smartphones, hackers can also expect to gain access to more valuable business information.

Regarding cybersecurity, knowledge is your first line of defense. Identifying potential threats will help you install appropriate software. Below we have listed three of the biggest security threats for Android users with quick tips on how to protect yourself.

Phishing attacks

Phishing is one of the oldest cybersecurity threats. Over the decades, cybercriminals perfected phishing techniques, making them extremely dangerous. Moreover, it’s commonly used for smartphone hacking because it can be done via text messages. Phishing via text messages is called smishing.

Phishing heavily relies on human error. Cybercriminals attempt to trick users into clicking on a malicious link. For example, they might send you an email that’s carefully forged to resemble your bank. It will ask you to follow a link, but instead, it will upload malware to your phone after you click on it. Healthcare is another frequently targeted sector. Hackers exploited the Covid-19 crisis because people were more likely to click on a link relating to their health.

Here are the four most common phishing methods:

  • Tiny URLs. Cybercriminals exploit the limited Android screen size to obfuscate infectious backlinks. Most often, it will have a legit domain name in the beginning. Then the second part of the link hides the malicious destination.
  • SMS spoofing. Hackers can send tons of text messages with fake backlinks. These messages are frequently disguised as system updates and other crucial notifications.
  • Mobile verification. This is an additional tool cybercriminals use to carry out more sophisticated attacks. They insert a specific type of code into phishing websites that confirm the person uses a smartphone. It gathers device information that is later used for other attacks.
  • Screen overlays. This method imitates legitimate Android apps. An unsuspecting user is taken to a mirror site and asked to log in. Stolen credentials are used to gain access to the smartphone or for credential stuffing attacks.

Education is of utmost importance in defending against phishing attacks:

  1. Do not rush to click on any links or input your credentials. Hackers do their best to fake a sense of urgency. Slow and careful inspection is to your advantage.
  2. Take time to analyze the backlink for malicious elements. It will reveal the actual destination, which might differ from what’s written.
  3. Update yourself on the most common phishing scams.

Password hacking

Passwords are an essential part of Android security. There are several ways hackers can steal them. A common method is brute forcing. Cybercriminals try various passwords numerous times until one gets through. It’s more successful when people use easy-to-guess passwords like “qwerty” or “password123”.

A good password manager will protect against brute-force attacks. It will help you create a long and complex password for each app that requires one. What’s more, it will autofill them on websites. It’s much more comfortable and will prevent anyone from peaking over your shoulder.

More sophisticated hackers use smudge attacks to deduce the swipe-lock pattern with a stunning 90% accuracy. You should ensure your Android is locked with a PIN or a password. You can also use third-party lock apps for an extra layer of security.

Public Wi-Fi safety

Public Wi-Fi is comfortable, but it can also be dangerous. Public Wi-Fi hotspots frequently lack advanced cybersecurity protocols. Hackers know this very well and prioritize them to hack into smartphones and deliver viruses.

Luckily, there is an efficient and affordable solution. Cybersecurity experts recommend using a Virtual Private Network for public Wi-Fi protection. It will encrypt your data and reroute it through one of its secured servers. Data encryption guarantees that nobody can monitor your online activities. So your data remains safe even if the hotspot you use is being monitored. A VPN will also prevent you from leaking your location data all over the internet.

Conclusion

If you follow our recommendations, they will protect you from the most common security threats. Remember, cybercriminals always look for the easiest targets. Even the most straightforward security solutions will repel most hackers.

 

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    Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag. Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.
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