Mobile phones are part of everyday life for many people. Smartphones include multiple microphones and cameras to absorb and transmit audio and video. These tools have many uses, but they are also useful for people who do not have your best interest at heart. People should have the right to privacy on their mobile phones, but they cannot expect it. As reported on the Cyber Security Intelligence website, governments, companies and cyber criminals can obtain and use your data.
As Edward Snowden revealed, intelligence agencies are spying on their citizens and you don't have to be a security risk. Facebook has been sending ads to people based on conversations when their phone was in the room. Mobile carriers are using identity codes to determine users' movements. No individual with a smartphone is exempt from surveillance.
Government agencies and tech companies have taken actions to secure users' privacy, but not enough has been done. A brand new mobile phone comes with pre-installed spyware. Malware and backdoors are often pre-installed. Phones may have invisible apps that can obtain admin privileges and do things a user cannot detect or disable. It may even send data packages to remote servers while the phone is turned off.
Of the estimated 5 billion people who are using mobile devices, 85% use models based on the Android operating system. Pre-installed vulnerabilities are not limited to Android, but the number of Android devices made them attractive to attackers. Android also runs on other connected devices.
Trackers can use your phone to get your email address, IP address and exact location. Some vulnerabilities allow attackers to access phones remotely and record everything the owner sees, does, says and hears.
Short of throwing away your smartphone, what can you do?
- Disable access to microphones for all apps not requiring them.
- As with any system, don't click on links or download attachments from unknown, unsolicited senders.
- Uninstall apps you don't need; review your needs on a regular basis.
- Switch off WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth when not needed.
- Only download reputable applications.
- Run a regular malware and virus scan.