Keep your smartphone safe

Today’s smartphones retain a lot of personal data that you likely wouldn’t want to get into the wrong hands. Below is a list of just some of the data that can be accessed if someone got into your smartphone:

  • Someone can receive one-time passwords via text message or authenticator app that can be used to reset account passwords
  • Impersonate you by being able to send and receive calls, email and text messages on your behalf
  • Impersonate you through any social networks apps that you use
  • Access any notes, passwords or private pictures you may have stored
  • Reset your phone and sell it

How you can protect your smartphone

The most important thing you should do is to protect your smartphone with a numeric passcode and/or biometric authentication (finger or facial recognition). 6-digits is better than 4-digits – but 4-digits is definitely better than no passcode. Also, set your smartphone to auto-lock and require the passcode after 5-minutes or less of inactivity (less time is better).

I am surprised by how many clients I’ve helped who had no passcode on their phone. Smartphones are easily lost or misplaced, and a passcode will help keep your data out of the wrong hands. Most people don’t keep their doors unlocked, so why keep their smartphone unlocked?

Other things to keep your smartphone safe include:

  • Only install apps from trusted developers with lots of favorable reviews
  • Treat every text message and email from unknown senders as suspicious – particularly if it’s asking you to do something. Most text messages from financial institutions come from a 5-or-6-digit “short code” – not a 10-digit phone number.
  • Connect your smartphone to Wi-Fi when at home, and make sure you keep the operating system (typically iOS or Android) up-to-date with the latest security patches.
  • You don’t need an antivirus or security app, nor a VPN. Protections are already built into the operating system of your mobile device, and apps are vetted before being made available in the app stores. However, be judicious about the apps that you install, because occasionally stuff gets by the reviewers.
  • Most importantly, password protect your device. You are more likely to lose or misplace your device than getting hacked from the outside.

Do you need help with your mobile device(s). Contact us to discuss your needs.

Has Your Computer Been Hacked, or Is It Another Phishing Scam?

How many times has this happened to you? You’re on your computer reading, catching up with friends on Facebook, or searching the internet when a pop-up window shows up claiming that your browser has been hacked or blocked. 

If it’s your first time seeing such a message splash across your screen, you’ve been lucky until now. Every day millions of computer users all over the globe see such messages whenever they surf the internet. And no, it doesn’t mean that your browser has been compromised. It’s simply pop-up phishing designed to scare you into calling the number, which scammers use to target unsuspecting victims. 

What Is Pop-Up Phishing?

Pop-ups are generated by websites to offer users additional information or guidance (such as how to fill in a form, how to apply a discount code, etc.) 

With pop-up phishing, you get something malicious disguised as a scare message to get you to act. Pop-up phishing occurs when criminals hijack legitimate websites with malware code, causing the website to spring up these “your computer has been hacked” messages whenever a new user visits the website. 

Pop-up phishing is usually so effective because of the type of message that “pops up” and the content of the message. They typically provide a phony warning to an unsuspecting website visitor, claiming that the visitor’s computer security has been compromised. The visitor is then asked to either download a necessary tool to remedy the “security threat,” such as an antivirus program (often malware in disguise), or call a phone number for “help.”

[Read more…]