How Safe Is Your Phone?
The World Advertising Research Center predicts that by 2025, 72 per cent of internet users will access the web solely from their phones. While the work-from-home trend has made people increasingly conscious of cybersecurity for their computers, phones remain vulnerable points, especially considering how much they are used for transactions, banking and work purposes. As more and more people anchor their lives around their mobile phones, these devices are increasingly becoming targets of cybercrime.
“Criminals have also noticed this new world and the opportunities it presents for their nefarious activities,” says Loyiso Boyce, founder of cybersecurity firm Clyrofor. “The issue with personal gadgets is that criminals see them as the best way to gain access to people’s lives to source personal data. There are many marketplaces on the dark web where such data is in high demand.”
Unlike highly secure corporate infrastructures, personal devices are more vulnerable and easily exposed to cyberthreats. Boyce has identified shoulder surfing (spying on a person while using a device) and public Wi-Fi as common forms of personal data mining.
Don’t be a victim
Boyce says that certain measures can be taken to protect personal and home devices from constantly lurking attacks. “Ensure that the software on the device is up to date, especially the security-related updates – this includes the apps installed on the device. Using strong passwords with at least eight characters and a combination of lower- and upper-case letters, numbers and special characters is recommended.
“Activate multifactor authentication for social media and other online accounts,” advises Boyce. “Be careful who you grant unrestricted access of your device to, as spy software that allows for monitoring of movements, calls and chats is readily available.”
South Africa is still in the process of amending and legislating the Protection Of Personal Information Act to ensure compliance by July 2021 to uphold people’s right to privacy. “The act prescribes jail time and serious fines for entities with lax system controls or those who share personal identifiable information without the owner’s permission,” says Boyce.
Personal data is the new currency. Whether on the dark web or legitimate platforms, our online activity is in big demand. One way of mining an unsuspecting user’s data is by sourcing their password without them being aware.
The burgeoning number of apps, networks and sites we all access coupled with increasingly sophisticated hacking threats make a good password manager a necessity.
But how do you know if you have a reliable password manager?
“I recommend that people use trusted and reputable products for this purpose,” says Loyiso Boyce of Clyrofor, a cybersecurity firm. “An internet rule of thumb is that if you’re getting the service for free, then you and your data are most likely the product. Look at the Facebook and Google business models, for example.”
Boyce recommends Bitwarden as a good, free and reputable open-source password manager for personal use. Mac OS and other Apple devices come with a built-in password manager. “Paid options tend to come with more features and updates when compared to the free options,” he adds.
For people who are looking for a password manager to use on multiple devices for more than one user, Boyce recommends Keeper, LastPass and Dashlane.