Watch out: The Boogie Man is after your phone

Published January 5, 2016

You do everything you can to keep your mobile phone safe. You keep it in your pocket during the day, and tuck it into its docking station every night. 

But mobile devices – and the information they contain – are threatened on many fronts, says Lookout, a cyber security firm focused on mobile security. 

Lookout and other security experts say mobile phone users should beware of these threats, and take the following steps to help ward them off:

  • Browser exploitation. Visiting an unsafe web page could trigger a browser exploit that could install malware or perform other actions on your device. 
  • Drive-by downloading. This scam automatically downloads an application when you visit a website.
  • Malware. This software can charge fees to your phone bill, send messages to your contacts, and hand control of your device to someone else.
  • Phishing. These scams fish for information, such as passwords or account numbers, by sending you links to bogus websites disguised to look like ones you use and trust. 
  • Spyware. This technology gathers and uses information about you – such as your phone call history, texts and photos – without your knowledge.

Here’s how you can counter some of these threats: 

  • Set up your phone with a passcode and set it to lock after a few minutes. 
  • Keep your phone's software up to date as well as the apps you have installed on it. 
  • Install anti-virus software and a firewall. 
  • Resist opening email and attachments from senders you don't know 
  • Be careful what you share and where you share it; public Wi-Fi hotspots often aren’t secure. 
  • Don’t trust websites without a lock icon or the letters “https” in their address bar. 
  • Don’t share personal information with anyone over your device unless you initiate the contact. 
  • Research apps before you download them. Check their ratings, read reviews about them, and only download them from trusted sources. (Apple, for example, puts every app in its store through extensive testing).

While you’re paying attention to all that, don’t forget to watch out for old-fashioned threats, such as sticky-fingered thieves who could nab your device. Sometimes the only thing a criminal needs is an opportunity.