As a society, we are extremely reliant on our smartphones for many day-to-day tasks. Meanwhile, businesses are embracing the use of portable devices to offer greater flexibility and connectivity to staff and to reduce downtime. But how robust is our mobile device security? And are we now more vulnerable to data breaches?
We explore these questions and outline our top data breach prevention tips to help you increase mobile device security.
How vulnerable are mobile devices to data breaches?
As innovative apps offer mobile users more capabilities for communicating, banking, making online purchases, and carrying out numerous other duties, does this increase our risk of data breaches and security threats?
We allow apps to access our data to deliver services, we offer consent to process data for marketing purposes and we enter countless passwords for account login and app access. With all the data being accessed by organisations and third parties, how can we trust that our data is being protected and kept out of reach from cybercriminals?
The GDPR has made great strides in ensuring organisations are more responsible and accountable for data privacy and protection. But we need to challenge companies to remain compliant and keep their processes watertight.
Mobile companies are implementing measures to make mobile devices more secure. Password locks for accounts and secure wallets for payments help keep personal data protected, while fingerprint technology and facial recognition software help protect identity.
What are the main data security risks for mobile users?
As our bank details, medical records and other types of personal information are accessible through apps and mobile devices, data protection is more important than ever before.
We live in an era of Big Data and IoT, where our meta-information (such as online engagement and browsing behaviours) gives organisations rich data insights which can be used to personalise user journeys and, of course, show you relevant ads based on your history and online behaviour.
As companies store, process and share personal information and behavioural data, there is a risk of data being compromised, data breaches occurring and threats to identity and data security. Service providers must do more to protect mobile data and new technologies are emerging to help mobile devices prevent threats.
How can I protect my mobile devices from data breaches?
There are various things that you can do and tech solutions to use which help to keep your data protected. We offer you some actionable tips. Here are Vohkus’ 7 data breach prevention tips to increase the security of your mobile devices:
Data breach prevention tips to increase mobile device security
1) Increase your password strength and sophistication
A simple but effective security measure is to strengthen your passwords. Most apps and websites request a certain level of sophistication from user passwords, but it’s important to create strong passwords for your user accounts.
The strongest passwords are random strings of characters, such as a series of letters, numbers or symbols which are in no particular order. Alternatively, vary your capitalisation and insert numbers and special symbols to break up words. Also, avoid using the same password for different accounts. If one account is compromised in a data breach, other accounts might be compromised too.
Google Chrome, and other web browsers, let users save and secure passwords to enable instant access to apps without having to enter your password each time. But we recommend using a password manager app. In a digital era where we have a password for everything, this is a handy way to store the strongest passwords in one place, in an encrypted app.
2) Mobile device encryption
Encryption and firewalls are key cybersecurity tools for keeping mobile devices safe from hackers and malware threats. Ensure your devices have the right level of encryption and resilient firewalls in place.
Devices become more vulnerable when they leave the office. If anyone in your organisation is using a public network that is compromised, data stored on mobile devices is easier to access without encryption. Firewalls detect unsecured networks to prevent malicious threats.
3) Use a VPN when using a public Wi-Fi network
Public Wi-Fi networks are a big concern for mobile users. You are reliant on the diligence of the organisation’s security protocols and its wireless network. If you want to get on a public Wi-Fi network via your portable device, we recommend using a virtual private network (VPN). From a data breach prevention perspective, VPNs prevent people from gaining access to your devices through a public Wi-Fi network.
Using a VPN also allows you to mask your data transmissions and stop people from detecting your location as some websites block certain country locations. Other benefits include gaining access to content that may not be available in your own country.
Just make sure that you use a trusted VPN provider and check your VPN service agreement, to be aware of their data privacy processes.
4) Consider permissions before giving apps access to your data
Many apps request permission to access data from other apps on your mobile device, to provide certain services or personalisation, either during your profile set up or via a pop-up message.
It’s good practice to consider whether you want to grant access and if the permissions being requested are relevant. If you don’t believe the data access request to be relevant to the app’s function, then you should not grant permission. This can be a red flag for an untrustworthy app. We recommend monitoring your mobile device performance after installing new apps. Malicious apps tend to run constantly in the background, causing battery life to decrease quickly.
5) Keep mobile software up to date
Regular requests for updates from your mobile operating system can be annoying, especially if you’re busy with a task, but it’s critical to keep your operating system up to date. Don’t put it off, otherwise the risk of hacks will increase.
Cybercrime is evolving and criminals are finding new ways to manipulate users and break down security tools. Operating system updates help users to stay ahead of hackers and protect mobile devices from cyber-attacks and data threats. You can set your mobile devices to automatically update when new versions are available.
6) Embrace the benefits of mobile identity technology
As mobile service providers aim to meet consumer demand for faster access, connectivity and payments, mobile security is having to improve all the time. Smart pay apps and mobile wallets enable instant payments without manually entering payment details. New technologies that allow mobile devices to integrate with personal ID are turning them into identity wallets. This includes password-less login and biometric identity for mobile device access and payments.
Credentials are a big security problem, with billions of accounts and app profiles vulnerable to username and password-based hacks. At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google announced its intentions for new Android devices to enable apps that only require a fingerprint or FIDO security key for user authentication.
7) Hold organisations accountable for data protection and privacy compliance
We mentioned the GDPR earlier and this plays a big role in data breach prevention. The compliance date for new data privacy and protection regulations was May 2018, and organisations are now at risk of heavy fines if they are found to be in breach of the rules.
Businesses and marketers had to overhaul processes and cleanse their databases to align with the new regulation. Many had to rethink their whole approach to data storage, processing and communication. It’s about transparency, and the public now has access to company privacy policies and data processes.
The result is that we are more aware of what brands can and can’t do with our data. We can hold them to account. Misuse of personal data is now less likely, but we shouldn't just assume that every organisation is compliant. One business may not be as responsible as the next.
For some handy information on how to keep your IT systems and processes GDPR-compliant, check out our guide: IT Security and Compliance in a Post-GDPR World.
There are lots of ways to protect mobile devices from threats and data breaches, and new tech solutions to help keep them secure. But as technology advances, new threats emerge. You need to be aware of mobile device security and data breach prevention best practices, and ready to put processes in place and utilise the solutions available to you.
If you want to learn more about data security measures, take a look at our blog: 5 Data Security Features Your IT Department Needs to Protect Systems from Cyber Attacks.
Or why not speak to Vohkus about data breach prevention and mobile device security? Our experts we’ll advise you on how to bolster IT asset security and threat protection.