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Yes, your smartphone can get hacked. Here's how to stop it

Your computer might be protected against hacking, but what about your smartphone? Although we typically talk about hacking in relation to bigger devices, your smartphone is also susceptible to hacking. This is how you can protect yourself, and your phone, from a hacker. 

Why would a hacker target a smartphone?

Hackers target smartphones for the exact same reasons that they target computers; financial gain. There’s a wealth of data on your devices that may seem innocuous to you, but are very desirable to somebody else. Passwords, login details, and banking details are stored on your mobile phone, just like your computer.

Aren’t smartphones more secure?

There’s a misconception that your smartphone has a higher level of security than your laptop or your tablet. However, this isn’t always true. 

With your computer, there are two main security weaknesses; the computer, and you, the user. You could be vulnerable to attacks if your computer isn’t kept updated or doesn’t have antivirus; or you could be vulnerable to attacks if you’re unaware of hacking, phishing and malware. 

If you don’t know your cybersecurity, you’re more likely to click a malware-laden link, open a phishing email or visit a dodgy website without realising. This is true whether you’re using a computer or using your smartphone; phishing emails, fake websites and infected links exist on your mobile. as well as your laptop.

But what about biometrics, like fingerprints, facial recognition and voice recognition?

Biometrics provide an additional level of security that many computers may lack; however, they can be hacked; it is possible for a hacker to recreate your fingerprints, face and voice (and the risk is higher if you have a social media account). Although biometrics do improve security, it doesn’t make your phone impervious to hacking. 

What kind of hacks target smartphones?

There are a number of attacks which target smartphones. A typical social engineering attack may entice you to download an unsafe application, and allow them access to your phone’s data. Fake adverts, or even fake cybersecurity warnings may encourage you to click an infected link, and allow a hacker access to your device. Bluetooth is a common way for hackers to attack, as it allows access to the device often without alerting the user.

Phishing is also a common hacking technique targeting smartphones, where hackers send you a text from a trusted contact with a link, often encouraging you to share your information. We saw a scam like this during the pandemic, when there were fake texts pretending to offer vaccination appointments

How can you protect your smartphone?

The best way you can protect your smartphone is by regularly updating the device. These help to protect your phone from the latest scams and attacks, and ensures that any bugs are fixed. Updates including security patches mean that your phone manufacturer has identified a vulnerability, and provided a fix within the update. These are invaluable when it comes to protecting your device.

Be aware of downloading applications that you aren’t familiar with; this is one of the easiest ways for hackers to access your device. We’d also advise against jailbreaking your smartphone. Although doing so allows you to download third-party apps and customise your device, it also leaves you more vulnerable to dodgy applications, and can prevent you from downloading updates.

When you’re considering using auto-logins, smart-unlock, Bluetooth and other features which increase accessibility, make sure you balance usability with security. Yes, it’s great that your phone unlocks automatically if you’re near your car, and that your headphones automatically connect; but it’s great for hackers too.

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