“So much information is entered and saved on smartphones and scammers are watching closely. Consumers must remain vigilant and follow security practices to protect their personal and financial information,” said Charlie Williams, VP of Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance at USE Credit Union.
SAN DIEGO (PRWEB) November 19, 2021
Protecting Your Smartphone from Cyber Threats
Now that the holiday shopping season is here, many people will be using their phones to shop online, track packages, and sync their phones with new technology purchases. With so many dependent on the ease of which technology makes it to shop and monitor other devices it comes as no surprise that there is an uptick in cyber security threats and scams during this time of year.
“For many people their phone is how they browse, make payments, track packages, and communicate with customer service representatives about purchases during the holiday shopping season,” said Charlie Williams, VP of Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance at USE Credit Union. “So much sensitive information is entered and saved on smartphones and hackers and scammers are watching closely. Consumers must remain vigilant and follow best security practices to protect their personal and financial information.”
Now is the perfect time to start taking extra steps to protect yourself and your devices. Here are some helpful cyber security tips that will keep your information safe this holiday season.
1. Think about Your Surroundings
When out in public, anytime an app is used that requires a password, such as a mobile banking app, the door opens for “shoulder surfers,” people who discreetly watch what is done on your phone. If they can see where and how a log in occurs, they can use that information themselves. Be mindful of strangers trying to watch what is being done on your phone.
2. Protect Your Device with a Strong Password
Many phones have biometric options, like fingerprint reading or facial recognition, to unlock a phone quickly without having to type in a passcode, providing another layer of security. Your password protection should be extended to any mobile apps that contain sensitive financial or personal information.
Be sure to log out of your mobile banking, shopping, and similar apps after the task or purchase is completed. By logging out, it helps ensure your session is closed and your data is safe. Outside of your password-protected apps, there shouldn’t be any sensitive information stored on your phone. There shouldn't be passwords, PINs, banking info, or your social security number stored on your device where they could be discovered if your phone fell into someone else’s hands.
Also, consider using your phone’s security features to add extra protection to your finances and personal info. For example, safeguard your transactions by adding your debit and credit card to your phone’s mobile wallet. These days, mobile wallets can be used to easily store and protect things like store loyalty cards, concert tickets, and, in some states, even your state-issued ID. Plus, there are several apps to secure your passwords, PINs, and other sensitive info.
3. Keep Your Apps and Operating System Updated
Hackers and scammers work nonstop to find ways past mobile device security. Fortunately, developers update apps and operating systems frequently to address potential vulnerabilities. Your phone can automatically keep the apps and operating system updated, or have it send an alert when an update is available.
Plus, any unused apps should be deleted. It not only frees up room on your device, but it cuts down on ways someone can get personal information. Be cautious of downloading new apps, and always be wary of any app that asks for excessive permissions. Remember, the various app stores can’t guarantee that the available apps are perfectly safe, and some apps can hide malware, or harmful software.
The best way to prevent malware from causing problems is to use an app that scans and protects against it. Many options are available, so check Apple’s App Store® or the Google Play™ Store for one compatible with your device.
4. Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi can be convenient and provide faster internet access for your phone, but use it with caution. Many experts agree that public Wi-Fi is not very secure and gives hackers easy access to your device. Never do online banking or send sensitive information over a public hot spot because someone could be watching. If possible, use your cellular connection and avoid public Wi-Fi.
5. Dump Autofill and Clear Web Browsing History
Your phone has a lot of features designed to make your life easier. For example, your phone can autofill form-fill entries with your name, address, phone number, and even passwords. While this makes navigating online easier, it makes it easier for scammers to get the information they need. Turn off autofill to protect your data.
Clearing your web browsing history, cookies, and cache regularly is a simple method for safeguarding your data. Removing this data prevents someone who may gain access to your phone from using your digital footprint.
6. Know the Signs of Spoofing and Phishing
Mobile devices are common targets for scam phone calls, text messages, and emails that use phishing and spoofing techniques designed to trick the recipients into providing sensitive information, such as their online banking login. The best thing to do is never reply, download attachments, or click on links for such unsolicited communications, even if the sender claims to be a familiar business.
If there is a call or message from an unknown number, contact the company directly (via their website) to check if the email or phone call is genuine.
Remember, a real business or organization (like your credit union) will never contact customers out of the blue and ask for sensitive information like login credentials.
Being Smart About Cybersecurity
Your smartphone can add convenience to your day, but protection is needed for yourself and your identity in a digital world.
USE Credit Union takes our members’ safety and privacy seriously. Our digital services are designed to bring greater security to your day-to-day transactions, such as by using state-of-the-art encryption, two-factor authentication when logging into online and mobile banking using an unrecognized device, as well as Touch ID® and Face ID® for iPhone users. Additionally, USECU’s credit and debit cards can be easily added to your phone’s mobile wallet for fast, secure transactions on the go—even if your physical card is left at home.
Most importantly, if you're concerned criminals have targeted your USECU account, contact us right away.
Mobile and data rates apply when using Mobile Banking. The App Store, Touch ID and Face ID are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. Google Play is a trademark of Google Inc.
This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is the responsibility of each consumer to determine the safety of an app.