How safe are we from cyberattacks?
The US presidential elections have raised some serious concerns regarding the safety of the electoral process and it’s vulnerabilities to Russian cyberattacks. On close introspection about this issue, one stark fact comes to light: smartphones are some of the most vulnerable devices in cyberattacks. This is of serious concern, as a very large chunk of the general population in all countries use smartphones.
In the corporate sector, cyberattacks have become very prevalent. Heavy spending by companies on information security services is a norm now. Despite this positive development, the number of intellectual property thefts have increased by 183%.(Global State of Information Security Survey 2016). The survey is conducted annually by professional services network, PwC.
Back in 2013, AVG technologies said in a survey that almost 90% of smartphone users were unaware of the risks posed by storing card details locally on financial applications. The same 90% were equally unaware about how the same apps could transmit confidential information without their consent. For everyone’s sake, I hope that number has decreased over the last 3 years. But don’t worry! All isn’t so dark in the land of cyberattacks. Compared to the 90 million PC threats that have been detected till date, the 13,000 mobile malware are almost nothing. Due to the vast experience developers have gained in PC security over the years, they have been able to build fairly secure frameworks for mobile software.
There are some very basic, yet effective things you can do to secure your phone from cyberattacks:
- Don’t install apps from untrustworthy sources: This is more important for android users. As far as app permissions go, you can install literally anything on an android as long as you have the apk file. There is no way to verify the safety of such files as they have not been checked by the Play Store team. This is the exact same reason why non app-store apps can’t be installed on un-jailbroken iphones.
- Check your phone bills: Unusual messages, suspicious additional charges or even decreased battery life could be symptoms of malware infecting your phone.
- Don’t automate payment methods(if you can): Experience has shown that payment methods requiring instantly generated OTPs and grid numbers/CVVs on the back of banking cards are better. Some apps can charge your cards directly at the touch of a button.
- Don’t share bank details over texts/calls with people you don’t know: The oldest lesson in the book, but let’s be honest with ourselves. Old-fashioned carelessness is the root of all security problems in the electronic world.
Russian cyberattacks gravely affected the Democratic Party before this year’s election. Some say that this even tilted the tide in favour of President-Elect Donald Trump. The fallout from a hack that exposed emails from Democratic National Committee members forced Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to announce her resignation just before the party’s convention in July. In retaliation, no reports of US counterattacks have been reported. Before Election week, NBC news reported how US military hackers had penetrated Russian telecom infrastructure and the Kremlin command centre, and would strike back if there were any attempts made to interfere with the electoral process.
Now there’s no need to get overwhelmed by all this! The cyber world is huge and the best way to fight cyberattacks is to show strength in numbers. As long as communications happen between secure devices and users stay smart about what they share and install on their phones, the mobile world is pretty safe. Next time you encounter a cybersecurity survey, DO NOT SKIP IT!
Pravir Ramasundaram is our in-house content writer at ContractIQ. Keep coming back to read more from him on mobility & outsourcing.