As the holiday season kicks into high gear, keep in mind that shoppers are at an even higher risk of cyberattacks during this time of year. Salesforce projects that mobile users will account for 60 percent of traffic to retail sites around the globe this year. With the increased popularity of shopping on the go, more and more cybercriminals will move to prey on unsuspecting shoppers. Here are a few tips to minimize your chances of falling victim to cybercriminals this holiday season (and all year long).
Sophisticated attacks on smartphones
The fact is, mobile threats are on the rise. The Webroot 2017 Threat Report revealed a spike in malicious mobile apps, noting that almost half of new and updated mobile apps analyzed over the previous year were classified as malicious or suspicious. That’s nearly 10 million apps, up from a little more than two million such apps in 2015.
Given the rising frequency of cyberattacks and data breaches year over year, it’s no surprise that we’ve continued to see more sophisticated smartphone attacks. Some of the most common mobile threats users face are mobile web browser-based hacking, adware, remote device hijacking and eavesdropping, and breaches of mobile payment services.
Why you need a mobile security app
To avoid becoming a hacker’s next victim, protect your device with a mobile security app. A trusted security app can block infected or malicious apps and file downloads. It can also help protect your identity and personal information if your mobile device is lost or stolen.
It’s worth pointing out that all mobile security services are not created equal. In October, independent testing firm AV-TEST found that Google’s Play Protect service, which is designed to safeguard Android apps, was found to be “significantly less reliable” than third-party security apps, according to The Next Web.
Outside of a solid mobile security app, Webroot Chief Information Security Officer Gary Hayslip recommends making sure mobile devices are up to date:
“I recommend getting in the habit of periodically checking for updates and, if any are available, installing them. Updates that are waiting to be installed are accidents waiting to happen; they are doorways that can be exploited to access your devices or steal or encrypt your information. Don’t make it easier for your device to be compromised, keep it updated with the latest patches.”
In addition to a mobile security app and frequent updates, you should also be protective of your mobile device’s connections. Follow these two tips to double-down on your mobile safety:
- Turn off your Bluetooth: Bluetooth is a resurgent way for cyber deviants to gain access to your devices and personal information, so be sure to keep your Bluetooth off while out and about doing holiday shopping.
- Data over WiFi: Public WiFi networks are notorious hotbeds for digital attacks. If you have to do your holiday shopping online in public, use your cellular connection instead. If you’d rather not use data, a virtual private network (VPN) is a great way to protect yourself while connected to a public network on your mobile device.