Mobile Device Security: Don’t Be Naïve

I woke up this morning at my normal 4:30AM.  This getting old stuff really whacks your sleep!  Turned on the news and the first two stories were on yet another set of cyber security breaches.  The first was on the US Post Office Enterprise getting hacked and more than 750k USPS employees’ personal information stolen.  The second was on another nasty attack on Apple iOS.  This one called the “Masque Attack” poses as a very popular game app and users unknowingly install it.  The Masque Attack then steals your banking and credit card transaction information.

It struck me that there are just some things that a lot of people just haven’t quite grasped yet.  The cyber security criminals are very organized.  And, there is a distinct shift in their targeting.  With the move to more and more mobile device dependency, the criminals are targeting mobile devices more than our desktop and laptop computers.  Yes, our mobile devices have become the primary target for cyber criminals.

And the consequences are dire.  Think of all the stuff you have on your mobile device.  Now think about this.  Think about a company of 10 or 20 or 30 thousand criminals.  They have the money, the resources, and the expertise.  They attack indiscriminately, looking for opportunities, making opportunities, and they no longer have to break into your back door or your vault.  They can attack thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of potential victims with a keystroke.  No one is immune.  No operating system is completely secure.

I’m no chicken little.  But, honestly, the volume and severity of attacks has me on high alert, especially when it comes to my mobile devices.  I have a bunch of them, all Apple.  And, now I mean to protect myself and also give my followers, friends, and random site visitors some common sense advice on how to be smart about protecting yourself from these malicious criminals and their ever-increasing, sophisticated, clever attacks meant to do harm to anyone and everyone.  The bad guys don’t discriminate.

Be safe.  Keep the Bad Guys out.

Be safe. Keep the Bad Guys out.

First, recognize that mobile devices are the new primary target.  Be alert.  Be cautious.  If you receive an email with a link in it that you don’t recognize, don’t click on it.  Doesn’t matter if it is your laptop or your iPhone.  Seriously, don’t do it.

Second, keep your virus protection up-to-date on your computers.  I know it is annoying to purchase annual licenses and we are all a little suspicious of the virus protection vendors.  But, in the likelihood that you need to connect to your computer with your mobile devices, you don’t want to leave an open door for criminals to infect your devices from your laptop.

Third, recognize that juice-jacking is the number one opportunity for mobile device infections – so, when you plug your phone into any USB port, you are extremely vulnerable to attacks.  Read up on the recent WireLurker juice-jacking virus and your knees will rattle a bit.  You are especially vulnerable while on travel – when you often have no choice but to charge through a USB port and have no way of knowing what you are plugging into.  Sorry for the gratuitous plug (but I have to make a living), the Juice-Jack Defender® is guaranteed to block identity theft code and malware when connected to a USB outlet.  It’s a $15 no-brainer.  Frankly, since I use the iCloud for synchronization, I NEVER connect to a USB plug without my Juice-Jack Defender® Turbo.  It’s just too dangerous.  If you don’t have a Juice-Jack Defender® and must connect to an unknown USB port, at least keep your mobile device locked.  And for goodness sake, put a password on your device!  But, even those precautions are no guarantee that a hacker can’t find a way in.

The bottom line is this:  Don’t be naïve.  YOU ARE THE TARGET OF CYBER CRIMINALS.  Be smart.  Protect yourself.  Use common sense precautions.  And, remember that it isn’t just computers anymore.  That wonderful mobile device that you carry around with you everywhere needs the same level of protection and precaution as your laptop computer.  Be safe.

–Stuart

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