In the past year in particular, various reports made headlines. Large companies, such as the US software giant Adobe, fall victim to so-called hack attacks and lose millions of customer data in one fell swoop.
Other companies such as TomTom sold their users’ satnav data to the police, Facebook is making unauthorized and secret psychological mass experiments and our Chancellor’s cell phone was tapped by the NSA.
The digital world of mobile devices resembles a theater. We have
- a stage on which spectacular, sensory-numbing dazzling work is presented,
- a handful of people behind it who coordinate everything,
- a crowd that is enchanted by it and
- resourceful thieves who use the darkness of the auditorium and the distraction of the spectacle to feast on the pockets of the visitors.
Our article now gives you some important and useful tips on how you can best protect yourself against hacking, fishing and data abuse.
Security against eavesdropping on the smartphone? Not really.
A big problem is eavesdropping on conversations, as you as the end user can hardly protect yourself against this type of espionage. We completely ignore wiretapping by state organs, as this procedure has even been legally legitimized thanks to the “fight against terror”. But every curious person out there can order devices from the Internet for a few dollars or euros that can be used to listen to and record cell phone calls.
These devices make the entry into the user data encryption of the GSM mobile radio standard fully automatic. Protecting yourself against it is very difficult. Various companies offer hardware such as special chips in so-called “security cards” or crypto devices that are externally coupled to the smartphone. But with this hardware there are far more serious disadvantages, measured against the eavesdropping hardware.
On the one hand, both parties must have the appropriate hardware, on the other hand, it is incredibly expensive. Such hardware can cost up to 2600 euros. So it is best to never communicate account details, passwords or other sensitive information on the phone.
5 anti-hacking tips
Hackers use so-called “backdoors” or keylog programs to gain unnoticed access to your device. Once the cracker is in the system, it can install download programs such as “Curl” and, unnoticed by the user, load all the tools that it needs into the system and thus secure full access to all stored data and system options. You can protect yourself against this with anti-virus programs for your operating system (for example IOS or Android), which you can get from official app portals such as iTunes or the GooglePlay Store.
Also, pay attention to the following:
- never open emails or instant messages from unknown sources
- Do not open or download any attachments from such sources
- do not load apps from unofficial sites
- never add strangers to your message boards
- Avoid advertising popups, never click on them
With Apple devices in particular, it is important to change the so-called “root password”, as this is a standard password that is always the same for the respective device series and is therefore known to everyone. Apps like “MobileTerminal” act as access tools for the system command input of the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, with the help of which you can change the root password and thus effectively protect yourself against unauthorized access.
Be careful with the device settings: apps and permissions
Initiative is a very important point in the optimal and safe use of the device. Do not leave wireless access such as Bluetooth or WLAN permanently open on your smartphone, but only activate them when you actually need them. This not only protects against unauthorized access, but also saves the battery considerably. The handling of the self-created data should also always be conscientious:
- never store passwords, blackout dates or bank details in your smartphone
- delete all SMS every few days; write down important information separately if necessary
- the same applies to the logs from messenger services such as “Whatsapp” and for e-mails
If you should ever lose your smartphone, the device’s finder has not much in hand, apart from the contact list. The “lock screen” hardly offers any protection against unauthorized access, as it can often be bypassed without complicated software by pressing a specific key sequence. It is better to get secure lock-screen apps from the AppStore.
Apps are an important topic. Take the time to read the permissions the software requires before downloading an app. Many apps, however small and harmless, require insignificant and outrageously comprehensive access rights to your data in order to function. For example, the transmission of your contact details, your browser history, your location and much more sensitive information.
You should also carefully read through the general terms and conditions of use and terms and conditions of apps, regardless of whether they are free or paid. Especially with regard to paragraphs that deal with the “collection of your data for advertising purposes” or the “disclosure of your data to partners and third parties”.
Online banking & social media: these dangers exist!
“If the service is free, you are not the user, but the product that is being sold”. You should always keep this credo in mind, especially with regard to the use of social media. The same applies to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and similar apps: do not communicate sensitive data such as account information, passwords or the like. Further:
- Do not use any Insta-Log functions when shopping online. So do not create customer accounts in online shops with your social media account. The shop receives many times more information than it needs.
- Look around for possible alternatives to Facebook and Co. Services like “Twister” or “Diaspora” allow much more anonymity and privacy.
- Pay particular attention to the privacy settings in your social media profile and be sure to adjust them. The basic settings of the large providers are not very recommendable.
You should only consider doing online banking transactions using your smartphone once all of the above points have been observed or fulfilled. Even then, however, there is an incalculable residual risk, since paid anti-virus apps, maximum privacy and security settings, and passwords of 9 or more characters do not offer 100% protection. So only use your smartphone for online banking if it cannot be avoided and if it should be absolutely necessary.