Many smartphones have malware or adware and, what makes it worse is that many users don’t even realise that the ads are not meant to be there.
Android security has a questionable reputation, mainly because no one owns it – nobody regulates what can or cannot be offered as an android app or even what can be sold as an android phone. Samsung has included its own Knox security technology to combat this. Apple’s iOS mobile operating system is tightly controlled by Apple itself, which also tightly controls the apps available in the App Store. This allows Apple devices to offer good security “out of the box”.
There are four common security flaws I often find when checking a phone.
USE SCREEN LOCK
Clients often disable or never set up screen lock which means access to their phone is a simple swipe and their home screen appears. If you lose your phone or it is stolen, whoever has it has access to your email account, photos, and possibly your bank details if you use a banking app. Apply a screen lock. There are many types inbuilt into android, from a PIN or a pattern to fingerprint or face recognition. Whichever you choose, this is the first step in securing your device. Apple and android also offer remote tracking and remote disable. On android, it is called “Find my Device” and on Apple, it is called “Find my iPhone”. From here, you can remotely disable your phone if you have lost it and don’t want the new owner to access it.
DOWNLOAD REPUTABLE APPS
The source of many pop-up ads is downloading questionable apps. Most apps are free these days but will pummel you with ads while you’re using it, unless you upgrade to a paid version. They might also download adware onto your smartphone, which allows pops up ads even when you not using the app anymore. This occurs frequently on android phones. If you have ads that pop up randomly, uninstall the last app you downloaded, then uninstall the next previous until the ads stop coming up. I would also suggest only download apps that have good reviews, have a lot of downloads and come from companies you have heard of before. If you haven’t, then do some research online before you press the download button.
INSTALL SECURITY SOFTWARE
Apple iPhones generally don’t need security software, but definitely look for third-party security software for your android phone. All the major security providers offer android security so pick the one you use for your computer and download that. Also, Malwarebytes offers a free malware scanner that is handy to download.
USE WIRELESS PROTECTION
If you use your smart phone as a hotspot for another device or tether it to another device to use the internet, then make sure you turn the tethering off after you use it, so your smart phone doesn’t send a signal for others that may patch into your phone. Where possible don’t connect to public Wi-Fi unless you have a VPN (Virtual Private Network) installed. VPN is for another article, but suffice to say, public Wi-Fi may allow others to access your device if you are connected to it. There are many other specific protections like encryption and/or internet privacy but these are dependant on your smart phone and how you use it.