People from all walks of life are relying more and more on smartphones and other mobile devices to run their daily lives. These include parents, professionals, and students. However, this presents an opportunity for thieves to steal data. One way is through smartphone data leaks.
Smartphone Usage Will Keep Growing Worldwide
The global smartphone market has been growing over the last decade and is projected to continue to do so. Users rely on these technical wonders to provide efficiency and convenience in handling daily tasks. Most people would consider their smartphones to be a crucial part of their daily lives. As they can provide almost limitless access to knowledge and information. In fact, mobile computing has changed the world, in many ways for the better.
Mobile Leaks And Hacks Are Under-Reported
However, mobile leaks and online attacks are most likely under-reported. Most grayware apps do not perform clear illegitimate behavior. But they often leak data, such as the host device’s phone number. Business users also agree that mobile malware attacks are not reported enough. In addition, the growing quantity of devices and apps means all reports are at a past point on the malware threat trend line.
Companies Are Not Offering Complete Protection
Companies do not give many reports on data leaks and hacks as a way to divert the issue. Their products, in fact, are not as secure as you may think. Even Apple, which boasts of the security of its devices, does not have security completely figured out. At least they ask users for reports on any system weaknesses they find, which can help improve their threat defenses.
Android phones, however, are much more insecure when it comes to online threats and data leaks. Since these types of smartphones are the most common, this provides ample opportunity for hackers to steal data. The prevalence of apps for Android phones creates an increased possibility of these leaking data.
One specific example is Huawei, a Chinese smartphone maker that was on its way to being a leading brand. However, its poor security practices were exposed, leading to it being banned in the US.
What’s So Bad About Data Leaks?
Smartphones and tablets have become crucial parts of people’s daily lives. They store personal information and behavior data in vast quantities.
Cybercriminals spread malware that can harvest this data from users’ devices. Hackers can even use the logs of devices to improve the effects of their malware. If a device manages to avoid or remove a threat, hackers can use this to learn how to make better ones.
Thieves can also steal someone’s identity through a smartphone app. Information such as birthdays, addresses, and social security numbers can be used by a cybercriminal for various purposes. This is a serious situation, as it can cost someone their entire savings, along with peace of mind.
These are not the only consequences that can come from a data leak on a smartphone or tablet. Whole swaths of a nation could be affected by data leaks that compromise its citizens’ lives. For example, a 2017 mobile data leak in Malaysia put almost the entire population of the country at risk for data theft. This put resident’s home addresses, phone numbers, SIM Cards, and other ID card information at risk.
How Mobile Data Leaks Occur?
There are three main ways through which data leaks happen:
- Internet Browsing
- Google Services
Malware is by far the biggest threat to data security for smartphone users. These programs come in many forms, all designed to harm devices or steal data. Some legit-looking apps are in fact malware that can leak data to criminal servers where it can be used for financial gain. These apps can be very difficult to spot. Android users are particularly affected by this risk. Google Play and other android app marketplaces are not as app-secure as the Apple App Store.
2. Internet Browsing
Browsing the internet with a smartphone or tablet is how malware usually makes its way onto your device. There are ways to protect your data, but requires vigilance and good internet browsing practices.
Limiting the amount of time spent browsing on your smartphone can help prevent this. Watch out for sharing too much information on websites because these are prime locations for phishing. This can be difficult in today’s world where most smartphone users shop, bank, and read news online.
Web browsers do not just allow easy web access. They store lots of user data such as logins and passwords. This makes them prime targets for cybercriminals. So browsers are responsible for large quantities of data leaks and hacks.
Un-secure connections like public wi-fi networks can make your smartphone vulnerable to data hacks as well. So make sure you are on a secure connection, or only use your phones data plan when necessary.
One solution is to disable internet browsing on your smartphone altogether. This can be an effective means for business users to protect their data.
3. Google Services
Google Services provides the base functionality for your smartphone apps. It helps to keep your device up to date by influencing the apps on it. It includes a set of APIs (application programming interface) that support the operations of other apps. This includes mapping, games, and fitness apps, among others. This makes updating all your apps and the OS much easier as Google Services handles much of it. Its reach on your android smartphone continues to grow as new abilities are added to it.
However, this makes Google Services a target for hackers. A malicious app could be using the assistance of Google Services to send data to cyberthieves. This data could also be collected and used by advertisers to direct ads towards you.
These three are by no means all the ways mobile data leaks happen. So, adopting a best-practices mindset can help lead you towards greater data security. Most users rarely do this, which leaves them and their devices vulnerable and exposed. As mobile devices grow in use, users will (hopefully) devote more attention to keeping their smartphones safe.
For more information, read our post Steps to Secure Your Smartphone From Online Attacks.