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Mobile App Data And Identity Theft Is On The Rise. Here’s The Best Way To Avoid It Happening To You

Credit: 155782380 / Computing © Sasinparaksa | Dreamstime

It’s easy to understand why consumers struggle when it comes to apps, data, and their security. Even the most popular, well-regarded, and well-used apps can become a vector for attack, and consequently it’s more important than ever to take control and ensure that data isn’t leaking to the dark corners of the Internet.

Earlier this month New Zealand’s politicians were told that the popular social media application, TikTok “posed a security threat.” This came just days after studies found that the metaverse, which will play a big role in both social media and applications, is a big data leak concern.

At the same time that report came out, another report shared the news that a batch of malware-filled apps had been discovered on Google Play. Unfortunately that was not before those apps had been downloaded 10 million times. Through them, the malicious app developers the ability to subscribe users to premium services, steal their social media accounts, and push intrusive ads.

It’s clearly a challenge to know what apps to avoid and how to safely use them. There are some positive signs that governments around the world are responding. Lawmakers in the EU are particularly encouraging, with a “privacy reboot” on the cards as new laws around sensitive data are being implemented. However, while those will help, they’re not going to stop criminals from trying to use apps to get access to user’s data, and so consumers will need to heighten their own vigilance.

What are the security best practices with apps?

Some of the key ways that users can protect themselves while using mobile devices include:

1) Take advantage of the full suite of authentication options

2) Avoid connecting to public WiFi networks

3) Use a password manager

4) Fake some of the data attackers value

5) Delete apps that you’re not using and that fall out of support

6) Finally, install Norton Mobile Security

One of the biggest risks of data loss comes from physically accessing data from a lost or stolen phone. In addition to passcodes, it’s worth taking advantage of the face ID and touch ID features of modern devices, which make it even harder to break in, unless the hacker has access to the owner’s likeness and fingerprints.

Public WiFi can seem like a sweet deal. It means free Internet data while you wait for your plane, train, or coffee! Unfortunately, these kinds of networks are almost ludicrously easy to hack and, even if you’re using totally legitimate applications on those networks, those thackers can intercept and harvest any and all of the data you’re transferring over it. You’re much better off bumping your phone data plan up and using it as a hotspot for on-the-go Internet.

Passwords remain one of the best defences against attackers, but “Password” remains the most popular password. A password manager can take the difficulty of coming up with strong and unique passwords for every application away from you, and generally adds even more layers of security over the top. Paired with multi-factor authentication, you can make getting control of your accounts almost impossible.

If an attacker knows your actual birthday, address, full name, mother’s maiden name, and a couple of basic details about you (the schools you went to, your job, etc), there is an enormous amount of damage they can do with it. Attackers can use this data for everything from accessing password recovery processes, to walking into a phone store, convincing the staff to transfer your number to their phone, and then using that to access all of your accounts. You need to be careful about what information you share online. Faking some birthday details on social media profiles is a good idea (choose a year a few years on either side of your actual birth year to keep the actual date), and just keeping other details (like your middle names) from anyone is also wise. If attackers only have an incomplete picture, they can’t do much to hurt you.

Every app that you have on your phone is a potential vector for attack. Apps that developers continue to work on and update will be kept up-to-date with the best security practices, but the longer an app goes out of support, the more it becomes a risk. Only use those apps if you must.

Having proven, robust security, such as what Norton offers through its dedicated mobile solution, Norton Mobile Security, available for both Android and iOS, is important for peace of mind. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, so having Mobile Security there to warn you about suspicious-looking apps, provide Web protection across browser, SMS, email, and social media, and alert you if a Wi-Fi connection is not secure, is an essential support to the best practices mentioned above.

The importance of identity theft protection

Finally, it is possible to get identity theft protection solutions for your digital footprint. Norton Identity Advisor Plus helps to protect you across both your mobile and PC activity by keeping an eye on the Internet for your benefit.

The solution includes:

  • Identity Restoration Support – where Norton will help guide you through the restoration process should your accounts be taken.
  • Dark Web Monitoring – through which Norton will scour dark web and private forums where identities are traded, and warn you should yours appear in the trades.
  • Social Media Monitoring – Norton will keep an eye on your accounts and alert you if anything suspicious is happening with them.
  • Stolen Wallet Assist – in which Norton’s agents will help you go through the full process of cancelling credit cards, driver’s licenses, and other pieces of personal information kept within a wallet.
  • Identity Theft Insurance – the service also includes insurance for the costs and losses involved in legal expense reimbursement and lost income from time spent away from work to correct financial records.

For people that spend time working, playing, interacting, shopping, and otherwise using the internet, the threat of identity theft is one of the scariest and potentially costly risks. Sadly, there are times where, no matter how careful you are, a dedicated attacker will still find their way into your accounts and identity. When that happens, having the support of something like Norton Identity Advisor Plus can help to deliver a quick resolution and minimise the financial impact of the stolen data. 

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