Whatever programmed thoughts you have about your phone being safe as long as it stays in your pocket—erase them now. The truth is: it is relatively easy to hack into a phone, even if it is smart.
Today, phones aren’t just devices we use to place calls. We use them to transfer money from one bank account to another. We store passwords and personal information on them. We video chat, instant message, play games and more. We are always more attached to our phones than we think. Ever caught that nosy guy sitting next to you on the train catching a not-so-sneaky glimpse of what you were texting, reading or playing on your phone? You were really annoyed, (weren’t you?) even though chances are he had no idea of what you were actually doing.
Because phones are evolving to smartphones and able to do incredible things they weren’t able to before, we are depending on them more than ever. Of course, hackers know this. One easy way to hack into a phone involves only the art of deceit and nothing more. “For instance, a would-be hacker might call you and pose as the phone company saying they need to update your account and need your password. Or the hacker might get enough of your information to call the phone company and pose as you,” says Robert Siciliano, a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert.
In the case that you do get this type of call, remember that your mobile carrier will never call you to ask for a password, even if they are doing an “update.” The general rule you should follow is to never give out passwords or personal information via phone, unless you have actually called first to ask for an update of some sort.
Hackers also know that many carriers still use default passwords for the phones they issue and a good number of people just don’t know to change them. This makes their job super easy—they can simply look up default passwords provided by carriers and use them to their advantage.
The best precaution you can take is to change your password occasionally.
In the widely known News Corp. scandal, “the now-closed News of the World paid bribes to police and intercepted the voice mails of celebrities, politicians and crime victims.” (Aug16th, WSJ) It is extremely likely that these phone hacks intro voicemails involved easy access to default passwords of victims who hadn’t changed them on their phones.
More technically adept hackers may “get a bit of information about your account and send a phishing email purportedly from your carrier asking you to log in. At that point they will have your password and other sensitive information.”
Because smartphones allow applications to be run on them, hackers can easily attach malicious codes to these applications that are downloaded on a daily basis. The “safe-in-my-pocket” thoughts should disappear—your phone doesn’t even need to be seen to be hacked. Be cautious of the applications you download, especially if you’re an Android user. Publishers are allowed to download their applications right into the Android market, so be careful.
The bottom line is: Be cautious about the activity you conduct on your phone. Fewer purchases via a website from your mobile device, fewer risky downloads and more password changes today may mean fewer headaches tomorrow.