Now ubiquitous, smart phones and tablets are handy devices that we use daily at work, at home and on vacation. An integral part of many of our activities, we often forget that these devices are prime targets for cybercriminals.
Billions of opportunities
With the advent of ever more powerful and sophisticated devices, and with the abundance of new Web applications, the number of users has grown exponentially and profoundly changed the way we use the Internet.
The statistics are telling. In 2016 alone, the Journal du Net reports that 2.49 billion people were connected to the Internet via their phone, a number that could rise to 2.94 billion by year end 2018.1 That’s a gigantic pool that cybercriminals worldwide can target.
1 Data from eMarketer, published in the Journal du Net
Know the risks
Thanks to mobile applications (apps), we have access to a host of goods and services: bank accounts, music, reservations, online purchases, videos, etc. These tools make our lives easier, but they can sometimes be infected in different ways by computer viruses:
- You can occasionally get viruses by clicking on a link that seems to lead to a video or a program or by opening an email attachment.
- You can also get viruses by downloading an application. These viruses can destroy your files or record all your keystrokes.
You can also be targeted by text message or email to give personal information on your accounts by calling a specific telephone number. (phishing)
Your means of defence
Whether at home or at work, it’s important to secure all your mobile communication devices and those of you children if they have one.
Some simple tips to reduce your risk:
- Adjust the security and privacy settings on your devices before downloading and installing applications.
- Download applications from reliable sources.
- Make sure the operating system of your devices and your applications are up to date.
- Equip your devices with anti-virus protection.
- Delete any unused applications.
- Enable the auto-lock function on your devices so that they will lock automatically after a period of inactivity or when you are not using them.
If you use public or unknown wireless networks:
- Never send confidential information.
- Don’t download data.
If you want to replace your mobile devices, before switching to another model, be sure to:
- Delete all the data by wiping your device with the reset option.
- Transfer the SIM card or the external card to the new device or destroy it if it cannot be reused.
It can be difficult to detect spyware or a virus. But certain abnormal behaviour by your phone should set off alarm bells. For example:
- Text messages are sent to unknown numbers without your having sent them.
- A contact is blocked or a website is suddenly inaccessible.
- Different slowness problems, or other difficulties with the device.
- Warning or alert concerning an unknown application.
- Unusual activity on your phone in standby mode.
- Applications to install apps that are not from the App Store or the Play Store, etc.
If the damage is done
Some of your problems can be solved by getting rid of the undesirable program or software. In most cases, you simply have to reset your phone or your tablet to the original factory settings.
But before you do this, save your contacts and your photos, as well as all the content you want to keep. Otherwise everything will be lost during the reset.
And if ever you cannot rectify the situation, don’t hesitate to use the services of specialized firms to remove the viruses or spyware from your devices.