The COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us to quickly adjust to the new normal — case and point, admitted that they switched to digital activities like online banking, social networking, and online shopping in 2020 out of convenience. Research now shows that consumers’ reliance on this technology is here to stay. PwC found that 44% of global consumers now shop more using their smartphones compared to when COVID-19 began. While having the world at your fingertips is convenient, how does this digital lifestyle change expose users to cyber threats, especially attacks on mobile devices?
It’s no secret that cybercriminals tend to manipulate their attacks based on the current trends set by technology users. As you reflect on how increased connectivity affected your everyday life, it’s important to ask yourself what could be lurking in the shadows while using your mobile devices. With more of us relying on our devices there’s plenty of opportunities for hackers. This begs the question, what does mobile security look like in a post-pandemic world?
Mobile Security Challenges in the New Normal
In addition to the increased adoption of digital devices, we had to figure out how to live our best lives online – from working from home to distance learning to digitally connecting with loved ones. And according to McAfee’s 2021 Consumer Security Mindset Report, these online activities will remain a key part of consumers’ post-pandemic routines. But more time spent online interacting with various apps and services simultaneously increases your chance of exposure to cybersecurity risks and threats. Unsurprisingly, cybercriminals were quick to take advantage of this increase in connectivity. McAfee Labs saw an average of 375 new threats per minute and a surge of cybercriminals exploiting the pandemic through COVID-19 themed phishing campaigns, malicious apps, malware, and more. New mobile malware also increased by 71%, with total malware growing nearly 12% from July 2019 to July 2020. As consumers continue to rely on their mobile devices to complete various tasks, they will also need to adapt their security habits to accommodate for more time spent online.
The Future of Mobile Security: Tips for Staying Secure
Here at McAfee, we recognize that the way you and your family live your digital lives has changed. We want to help empower you to protect your online security in your hyper-connected lifestyle. To help provide greater peace of mind while using your mobile devices, follow these tips to help safeguard your security.
1. Protect your mobile devices with a password, PIN, or facial recognition.
When setting up a new device or online account, always change the default credentials to a password or passphrase that is strong and unique. Using different passwords or passphrases for each of your online accounts helps protect the majority of your data if one of your accounts becomes vulnerable. If you are worried about forgetting your passwords, subscribe to a password management tool that will remember them for you.
Remember to physically lock your mobile devices with a security code or using facial recognition as well. This prevents a criminal from unlocking your device and uncovering your personally identifiable information in the event that your phone or laptop is stolen.
2. Use multi-factor authentication.
Multi-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security, as it requires multiple forms of verification like texting or emailing a secure code to verify your identity. Most popular online sites like Gmail, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. offer multi-factor authentication, and it takes just a few minutes to set it up. This reduces the risk of successful impersonation by hackers who may have uncovered your credentials.
3. Connect to a VPN.
Hackers tend to lurk in the shadows on public Wi-Fi networks to catch unsuspecting users looking for free internet access on their mobile devices. If you have to conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi network, use a virtual private network (VPN) like McAfee® Safe Connect to help keep you safe while you’re online.
4. Be wary of SMiShing scams.
Be skeptical of text messages claiming to be from companies with peculiar asks or information that seems too good to be true. Instead of clicking on a link within the text, it’s best to go straight to the organization’s website to check your account status or contact customer service.
Some cybercriminals send texts from internet services to hide their identities. Combat this by using the feature on your mobile device that blocks texts sent from the internet or unknown users. For example, you can disable all potential spam messages from the Messages app on an Android device by navigating to Settings, clicking on “Spam protection,” and turning on the “Enable spam protection” switch. Learn more about how you can block robotexts and spam messages on your device.
5. Use a mobile security solution.
Prepare your mobile devices for any threat coming their way. To do just that, cover these devices with an extra layer of protection via a mobile security solution, such as McAfee Mobile Security.
COVID-19 changed our relationships with our digital devices, but that does not mean we have to compromise our online security for convenience. Incorporating these tips into your everyday life can help ward off mobile cyber threats and stay a step ahead of hackers.
To stay updated on all things McAfee and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, subscribe to our newsletter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.