Security of personal data in applications. Everything you need to know

Anyone can face fraudsters because now a lot of applications know your phone number, first name, last name, and address. The most advanced ones need even more – for example, your passport details. If the application issues you an electronic signature, connects you with some government agency or helps you buy a car – logically, it needs this data. But is it safe to give them?

Hacker attacks are not only growing but are constantly changing. Therefore, the most important thing in ensuring information security is not to miss a new threat. That is why more and more companies and individuals are paying close attention to cyber security. In case you are willing to start your career in the field of cyber security consider trying yourself as a  cyber security analyst whose job includes such tasks as:

  • analysis of user behaviour;
  • threat tracking and classification;
  • making models of outgoing threats and finding weaknesses in protection.

What does your smartphone store and why is it dangerous

Information about you

Full name, date of birth, phone, email, and passport data in your phone album. If somebody maliciously obtains this data, they can get a loan, sign up for promotional mailings, and even instigate the sale of a property

Access to your money

Mobile and Internet banking, e-wallets, Google Pay/Apple Pay, and card data. If it is intercepted, attackers can steal your money, make purchases at your expense, issue a loan, and immediately steal credit money.

Access to contacts and correspondence

Phone numbers, correspondence in WhatsApp/Telegram, and social networks are also stored. If it is intercepted, it can be used to blackmail with the contents of your chats, extort money from you or your loved ones, and ask for a loan on your behalf.

Personal photos

Photos in your apartment and the yard, at work, personal screenshots, and intimate photos can all exist on your mobile device and in the Cloud. If these are obtained, attackers can again use blackmail, publish personal pictures on the web, and use your photos to create fraudsters’ accounts.

Ways to steal data using a phone

Technology has helped scammers create several new schemes, but the most popular ones are still based on the usual deception, manipulation, and fear. Let’s analyse some of the ways that data can be stolen from you and somehow harm you using your smartphone.

Social ways: to deceive you so that you provide the necessary access or give money

Call you on behalf of the bank

Even in banks, there are leaks, and then allegedly “security officers” who know your full name and where you keep the money start calling you. All you need to know about this method of deception is that banks do not solve such issues over the phone. If they notice something suspicious, they will block the account and wait until you come to them yourself.

Write to you in messengers/social networks and entice money

A typical scenario of such an attack is that someone hacks your friend’s account, writes to you on his behalf, and asks for money urgently.

Technical methods: hack your phone and get access

Scammers infect a file or application and distribute it under the guise of something worthwhile. Your phone may get infected when you:

  • install the application from unofficial stores;
  • follow links from suspicious SMS and emails;
  • download and view attachments from email.

What can you do to protect yourself?

You have to be careful and follow the simple instructions:

  • use a VPN when connecting to public Wi-FI networks;
  • download apps only from official stores;
  • install OS updates regularly;
  • use two-factor authentication. This is a protection in which you first enter your username and password to log in, and then confirm with a code from an SMS or push notification that it is you. The applications themselves will offer you to connect it;
  • do not give excessive permissions to apps.

And, of course, always remain circumspect. Scammers create the illusion of urgency and do not allow you to think – take a pause, a minute to think can save you.

Which applications can be trusted?

As for the data inside the application, to understand whether to trust the service with some information, you need to understand why it requests it. If you want to play Angry Birds, and they ask you for a phone number, address, and bank card number – it is strange. You do not invite them to come to your home or ask them to call you, and the game is free. But if you place an order in the H&M app, then this is normal. All this information is needed to deliver the order and send you the receipts.

The security problem is not only a problem of users who do not observe “data hygiene”. The world will never be 100% safe. But do not let fear and scammers deprive you of convenient apps. Follow the rules of digital hygiene, and be careful.

About Craig Bradshaw

Tech enthusiast and Editor-in-Chief of MobileTechTalk

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