REPORT: Know Before You Buy: Tech that Puts You at Risk

When it comes to mobile devices, Americans are spoiled for choice. These advanced mobile devices may give us more convenience and access to information, but they also come with risk. According to a 2012 report by the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly 17 million Americans over the age of 16 were victims of identity theft. Before you go out and buy a mobile device, it’s important to know what devices can put you at risk. Here is a look at some of the most common risks that present themselves on mobile devices and the best ways to keep yourself safe.

REPORT Know Before You Buy Tech that Puts You at Risk

Mobile Device Risks

As smartphones become more and more a part of everyday life, cybercriminals have adapted to the change, and in the last few years, malware developers have created a variety of malicious software to target these platforms. Many of the threats a mobile device faces are similar to the kind you would face on a desktop computer, but the greatest risk facing mobile users are malicious mobile apps. Some platforms and operating systems are more targeted than others. According to Forbes, 97 percent of all mobile malware targets the Android operating system in the form of unregulated third-party apps. Additionally, third-party apps by malicious developers can give criminals access to all sorts of personal information, from your credit card number or bank account number.

There are other risks to mobile devices as well. Apple had to release patches to its iOS mobile systems to repair a security gap that could have allowed hackers to access users’ data sessions. These security flaws were so large in scale that Apple issued its patches relatively quietly, as they revealed the real risk present when using unsecured WiFi on an iOS device. Before the patch, an attacker who had access to an unsecured WiFi connection could have impersonated a known website and then captured any data shared.

Staying Safe

The best way to protect yourself from malicious software is to only download apps from trusted providers and to avoid third-party app stores. A tremendous amount of the danger from malicious software can be avoided simply by exercising caution regarding what you download onto your mobile device. For additional security against identity theft, consider subscribing to a service that can alert you if your personal information is compromised. Identity theft can destroy your credit rating if criminals drain your accounts or make unauthorized purchases. Protecting yourself is critical to ensuring you do not fall victim to cybercriminals.

Additionally, keeping your device updated and on the most current form of its operating software is key to protecting your device and personal information. Take into consideration the iOS update mentioned. Apple has a vested interest in making sure customers feel secure, but ultimately it is up to the users themselves to ensure that their devices are currently running the most up-to-date version of the security software. If you fail to regularly update your antivirus software and mobile device operating system, you make your device a prime target for cybercriminals looking for easy access to your personal information. However, regularly updating device software, remaining informed about security threats to your device’s operating system and subscribing to identity theft protection services can keep you safe from even the most tenacious of hackers and cybercriminals.