Protect your device from espionage

You have probably seen in the news that high-net-worth individuals, famous athletes and entertainers are becoming favorite targets of phone hacking. In some cases, when security experts can’t agree, it’s because mobile device forensics are too limited to even confirm that someone has been compromised or reconstruct what exactly happened.

Mobile phones are becoming a fruitful and surprisingly easy target for hackers. It used to be that businesses issued their executives work phones that used only business applications. But today, our phones are just as likely to hold intellectual property memos as they are to be used for listening to music.

Hackers started by looking for salacious photos and embarrassing text messages, but now they’ve moved to mobile malware, ransomware and identity theft aimed at penetrating corporate networks and exfiltrating mission-critical data held on the phones of CEOs, board members and political leaders.

What You Can Do to protect your device from espionage ?

There are three strong steps all business leaders can and should do now in order to protect your device from espionage:

  • 1. Security hygiene: We’re all busy at work, so ensuring that our mobile phones and apps have the latest patches may not be our top priority. But if you’re a heavy user of your phone for business, you must make sure it has the most up-to-date security. Also, antivirus for mobile phones is a myth. Compared to our computers, an antivirus app on mobile phone will often fail to protect against malicious apps. However, one security control you can use for network security is secure VPN or Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). Such a solution can block traffic to malicious websites or data exfiltration attempts.
  • 2. Application hygiene: Any app on your phone can expose data and be used as a bridge to compromise your device. Whitelisting and blacklisting applications are now becoming standard practice for IT and security administrators, and you should follow these practices on your own phone as well. For instance, do you really need those five messenger apps? Are you automatically downloading content across social media apps? Do your kids or grandchildren use your phone and download games?
  • 3. Privacy hygiene: I know this will sound like the lecture you got from your parents many years ago, but here goes: Don’t give out personal information, especially your phone number, to strangers. A phone number alone will allow cyber criminals to trace you, physically and electronically, anywhere in the world. And remember that your colleagues, suppliers and customers store your number and other contact details on their phones as well — allowing your number to be easily exfiltrated by any fraudulent app they carelessly install.

Conclusion

You should follow these best practices personally to protect your device from espionage, but also support the deployment and administration of sound mobile phone cybersecurity processes. Your phone is every bit as much a computer as any desktop, notebook or server. Protect it accordingly.