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Be Smart with Your Smartphone!

As more and more people use their mobile devices for data storage and business transactions, smartphones are quickly becoming a prime target for cyber criminals. We recommend taking the steps outlined here to protect yourself and your phone against data thieves. 

Guard against bad apps
Many cyber crooks attempt to trick victims into downloading apps that infect their phones with viruses and malware. To help ensure that you don't download a malicious app:
  • Check the app's rating and comments from previous users before you download it. If an app doesn't have a good rating, there's likely a similar one that does. User comments can give you good insight as well, but if there are only a few comments and they're all extremely positive, err on the side of caution and don't download the app.
  • Check the information the app requires. Before you buy or download an app, you'll be informed about the kind of information the app needs to function properly. This is where common sense comes into play. If you're downloading a game of Scrabble, for example, and the app asks to view your contacts, it may not be wise to continue. Read the permissions carefully to ensure that nothing in the document raises a red flag.
  • Check out the app developer's website. This can be a good indication of quality and security. If the developer is legitimate, it most likely will have a professional-looking website.

Beef up your phone's protection
Mobile phone companies fight cyber criminals by creating new security updates and applications. Be sure to:

  • Keep current. Don't wait to install security updates or patches that your phone company provides.
  • Set up a screen-lock passcode. Almost all smartphones let you lock the screen after a certain amount of time or, if you prefer, every time the phone turns off or goes to sleep. It may take you a few seconds to type in a passcode, but this is a key security feature if your phone is ever lost or stolen.
  • Look for a mobile security app. Would you leave your computer unencrypted or without an antivirus tool to protect it? Of course not. So be sure to take the same precautions with your smartphone. Many companies package security features together in a mobile security app.

Get wise to smishing and vishing
Smishing and vishing are fraudulent schemes carried out via cell phone. Smishing attacks attempt to collect your personal financial information through SMS texts sent to your phone, whereas vishing scams use prerecorded messages asking victims to respond with their sensitive information.

To stay safe:

  1. Never respond to suspicious unsolicited e-mails, texts, phone calls, or voicemails that request personal information. If you are unsure about the validity of the message or call, go directly to the company's website.
  2. Don't click on any link or attachment within a suspicious text or e-mail message.
  3. Don't respond to text messages or automated voice messages from unknown or blocked numbers on your mobile phone.
  4. Don't download anything unless you trust the source.
  5. Delete text messages and voicemails from "5000" Many smishing and vishing attempts come from this number, indicating that the message was sent from an e-mail address rather than another cell phone. Verizon Wireless offers an easy way for its customers to block all messages sent from the Web. Watch this video to learn how to set up this feature. 

A smart future
With smartphone use on the rise, it's increasingly important to be proactive in thwarting mobile-based cyber attacks. Although following the steps outlined above cannot guarantee protection from all threats, it will help ensure that you stay safe.

2017 Commonwealth Financial Network