Mobile Security Apps: Why, How, Now.

What even is mobile security and why do you need it?

Back in the 80’s, the idea of a cell phone, let alone mobile phone security apps, were concepts of science fiction. However, the day has come, and these days, mobile devices are so powerful and common that they are being used more often than computers. It takes just a second to take the phone out of the pocket to and be able to check your email, bank account, or even book a flight.

But just like anything associated with internet, cell phones require security as well although it seems not many people realize that a phone can be hacked as well. Mobile security apps are not newbies on the market, but they are still fairly unknown to people.

Nevertheless, we are here to share some information and hopefully not only answer some questions but actually bring to light the importance of internet security on all devices.

Let’s start with the basics.

Obviously, people use smartphones not just as communication tools, but also as an easy way to plan work and private life. As good as that sounds, it poses new risks in terms of privacy and the information which can be hacked from your phone. The topic of mobile security is becoming more important because smartphones collect and keep a big amount of sensitive information.

Smartphones are a target for cyber attacks nowadays as hackers realize people can keep anything from daily plans to social security and insurance numbers on their devices, without encryption.

Attacks can range from malware to exploitation of software vulnerabilities. What a mobile security app essentially does is protect all weak spots of a phone, from identifying software vulnerabilities to apps with low privacy protection settings to even real time updates of mobile malware attacks locally and globally. Depending on the quality of the app, you could have your phone fully protected without ever compromising your wallet and privacy.

What makes your smartphone so vulnerable?

It is becoming more and more common for smartphones to be targets of cyber attacks. Over the last few years the amount of mobile threats has more than doubled. The threats are different; some can completely change the way your phone works while other threats can modify your personal data or even store your data.

Certain measures that each user can do before downloading an app is to make sure that the app’s functionality is limited. It means no access to location information through the GPS, no allowance to enter the user’s address book and no permission to transmit data via network.

A lot of apps when installed require access to many different areas of your phone where data is stored (ie contacts, notes, etc). The issue with this (not even getting into privacy) is that each app could potentially have a weak spot that a hacker could exploit, essentially giving them a doorway into your phone. Even more so, every smartphone-owner usually customizes their device to match their needs… meaning? Each phone is highly associated with a specific person which makes it a nice, data-heavy target for identity thieves.

So, what happens when a mobile phone is hacked?

Different ways an attacker can take advantage of your phone.

Once your smartphone is hacked, the possibilities what might happen to it are endless. Chances are that an attacker will manipulate the smartphone via some malware in order to send you spam either through text messages or email.

The aim of spam is usually to get some money out of you, get personal information, or lure you to a shady website. The attacker can also use your phone from distance and make phone calls. Often such phone calls are to paid services which would result in the mobile phone owner being charged with the bill.

Sometimes the aim of attack is to completely to disturb privacy and personal space, as some threats compromise the phones and record activities which later can be sold to third parties without your knowledge. Of course, the worst kind of attacks are the ones that steal your identity and start impersonating you which could lead to monetary loss.

Furthermore, it is common for cyber attackers to steal personal data like photos and music, contacts and notes, browsing history and either sell it to third parties or use for their own pleasure. There are many accounts when people, especially women were under such attacks where their personal photos were stolen and either leaked in order to shame the women or used for blackmailing.

What are the most common mobile phone security attacks?

In order to be able to protect yourself as well as possible, it is worth knowing what sort of attacks on your mobile phone are out there. A very common way to attack one’s phone is by using Bluetooth-based attacks like bluejacking and bluesnarfing.

Bluejacking is the type of attack when unsolicited messages like spam are being sent to mobile devices with their bluetooth turn on, while bluesnarfing is way to force connection with a device with its bluetooth turned on in order to gain access to as much data as possible.
Another method is bluebugging, which allows attackers to control someone phones via bluetooth from a distance and eavesdrop on the phone calls, connect to the internet and even send messages without the user's knowledge.

Other ways to attack smartphones include network related attacks based on the GSM networks. GSM is the base technology for most cell phone networks and its encrypted with an algorithms which is implemented in the hardware. However, the encryption on GSM is quite easy to crack and good hackers can do it in under 2 minutes time.

Similar attacks to this are ones based on wifi. Most wireless networks are secured by WEP keys, which can make encryption vulnerable based on the length of the key. For someone experienced in mobile security hacking, it can be a simple task to crack the encryption.

Last but not least are the attacks based on the location services. Social media makes such attacks a bit easier as most social media displays user's current location and are always linked (not recommended by us). By accessing someone’s location, a hacker can track your movements as well as access your most visited places or common destinations.

Finally, of course you can access a shady website and download malware or spam unknowingly. Once this is done, depending on the malware type of severity, there is no telling what data could be stolen, lost, or transferred.

Three Ways to be safe without security apps.

Just like with everything else with you, proceed with caution whenever accessing unknown wifi networks, bluetooth connections, or random websites. There are certain steps you can make in order to protect yourself.

Firstly, make sure that the password you use on your mobile phone is strong and you are the only person with access to it. If you own an iPhone, we recommend to change your code from a four digit to a six digit. If you do ever lose your phone, then consider contacting your service provider in order to dismantle your account.

Secondly, make sure that you are updating your phone and have the latest version of the phone’s operating system. It is an important step because developers are there to remove any bugs that could allow threat to come in, hence a new operating system means improvement and more safety.

Thirdly, make sure that the apps you download are safe by reading reviews for it and checking what demands they have for your mobile device. When you download an app, see what parts of your phone it wants to access and make sure you have your secure information in a safe area of your phone.

Consider security software.

If you are the sort of person that makes financial transaction via the smartphone, then it makes sense to invest in installing malware protection on your phone. Security software, or mobile security apps are there to detect and remove viruses and if you ever lose your device some software will even delete any sensitive data on your phone.

In terms of protecting yourself while browsing, mobile VPN apps are a great way to ensure anonymity, privacy, and protection while browsing. To go one step further, downloading an app which acts as a full security app for your phone is a great idea.

With most apps, there is malware protection, real time protection while browsing, security measures in case you get your phone stolen, and privacy-intrusive recognition systems. ZenMate provides both and be sure to check out our Mobile Security App “ZenMate Sense”.