Tips to Secure Your Phone and Prevent a Security Incident

Device Security

The ongoing pandemic forced most Canadians to rapidly adapt to working from home. While some of us may have purchased or been given landline phones when setting up the home office, many have adapted to being even more reliant on our cellphones. This further muddies the water between work and personal lives, as our work email which can contains sensitive information is now on the same device as our personal email and the various apps we use daily. We recently commissioned a survey from Angus Reid looking at Canadians perception of cyber and device security, which found some surprising statistics, both positively and negatively. To help educate Canadians on the importance of protecting one’s mobile device, we’ve provided some tips that should be put into practice.

Maintain good device hygiene

Device hygiene is easy to uphold and will go a long way to maintaining its security. One easy step is to ensure your phone has the latest updates. Ideally, weekly to monthly checks for new updates should be performed, but enabling automatic updates is a good way to ensure your phone always has the latest firmware to help ward off potential threats. Surprisingly,only 34 percent of working Canadians cited staying up to date with operating system updates and/or system patches. It’s important to remember these updates are created with the latest cybersecurity threats in mind.

Maintain strong password hygiene

Another easy way to increase security measures is to set passcodes or passphrases on your phones. The passwords should be long and complex to avoid the possibility of others being able to guess them. Using a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers and symbols can improve their strength. A password manager is a great tool to store all of your passwords in one place without fear of forgetting them. Passwords should be kept to yourself, which isn’t always the case. Our survey found that nearly one third (27%) of Canadians share their phone password with a few people.

Enable multi-factor authentication

Incorporating multi-factor authentication ensures if your device is compromised, several levels of verification are necessary for anyone to gain full access to the device. Our survey found just over half of working Canadians (51 percent) use some form of multi-factor authentication on their phones. Further measures such as enabling face scanning or thumbprint IDs are good ways to further secure the device. The newest phones typically come with these advanced capabilities, and consumers should take advantage of them.

Exercise caution when browsing the app store

When downloading apps, it’s important to identify which are real and which are clones. In another sobering statistic, only 36 percent of working Canadian cited app, program or software security as a top cyber concern. Clone apps are often put on the app store in hopes of having you mistake them for the official ones. From there, it becomes easy for hackers to access your data once you activate the app. A few ways to verify official apps are to check the publisher and look at reviews. Also make sure to question the app permissions when prompted. Ask yourself, “why does this app require access to my microphone or camera?”

Keep abreast of common scam attempts and be vigilant

When it comes to phones, one scam that is often used is phishing through SMS. If you receive a suspicious text message with a link attached, do not click it. A common example would be posing as a bank and using a link to try and get users to investigate what is going on with their accounts.

Similarly, the use of tax or government benefit phishing ploys have seen a sharp increase during the pandemic, which makes it all the more concerning that 48 percent of working Canadians say the pandemic has not changed how they prioritize device protection and privacy settings. Lastly, you should always be wary of accessing public Wi-Fi as they often leave your device open to others on the network.

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