The trend is clear. Most of us use mobile devices every day to check our email, communicate with friends and family, and stay connected through social media. Looking ahead, the use of these devices is sure to increase. Unfortunately, that means online safety from their use will also become more worrisome, as more users will be at risk for viruses, unwanted access, and the theft of personal information. Read on for information about how to protect yourself when you use your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device.
The Risks Involved
The first thing to keep in mind is that smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices are computers. In fact, today's smartphones and tablets are more capable than most PCs from a decade or so ago. More and more people use banking, financial trading, money transfer, and even health care apps. As a result, mobile devices store or have access to more personal information than ever before. On top of that, the size of mobile devices makes them easy to misplace or steal, increasing the risk of information theft.
Mobile devices are susceptible to the same sorts of attacks and vulnerabilities that affect PCs. Scammers may send mobile users "phishing" emails to get a user to unwittingly download harmful software or give out personal information. Smartphone users can also be victims of "vishing" (voicemail phishing) and "smishing" (SMS/text message phishing). Some scammers develop malicious apps that download unwanted software to the user's device or allow access to user information. Also, as with PCs, a mobile device can be controlled by an attacker to create a harmful network known as a "botnet."
Statistics, such as the percentage of people who install antivirus or firewall software on their mobile devices, are hard to come by. Nonetheless, it seems apparent that many mobile users do not protect their devices as they do their PCs. According to one recent survey of American smartphone users:
Ways to Protect Yourself
The steps to take to protect yourself when you use a mobile device are largely common sense, and similar to the steps to protect a PC.
If you have questions about online safety and mobile devices, such as how best to protect yourself or what to do if you've been victimized, you can consult with a consumer protection attorney through FindLaw.
Contact a qualified consumer attorney to assist with the hazards and stress accompanying identity theft and online scams.