Smartphones and other mobile devices have transformed our use of the Internet, which now touches nearly every aspect of our lives. Nearly half of all Americans are expected to own a mobile device by the end of this year. While these tools provide users with convenient access to information and communications, they also carry risk.
Mobile users have recently captured the attention of cyber criminals who seek to take advantage of everyday citizens. In fact, experts predict that within three years, smartphones and mobile devices will surpass computers as the primary target for cyber crime. If a hacker can gain access to a mobile device, they can easily find e-mail addresses, stored passwords, banking information, social media accounts, and phone numbers – allowing them to steal your information, your money, and even your identity. That’s why practicing good cyber habits is so important.
You can protect yourself from cyber criminals by following the same safety rules you follow on your computer when using your smartphone. These include:
- Access the Internet over a secure network: Only browse the web through your service provider’s network (e.g., 3G) or a secure Wi-Fi network.
- Be suspicious of unknown links or requests sent through email or text message: Do not click on unknown links or answer strange questions sent to your mobile device, regardless of who the sender appears to be.
- Download only trusted applications: Download “apps” from trusted sources or marketplaces that have positive reviews and feedback.
- Be vigilant about online security: Keep anti-virus and malware software up to date, use varying and strong passwords, and never provide your personal or financial information without knowing who’s asking and why they need it.