As most everyone has come to realize by now, mobile devices and constant connection have become staples of everyday life. Through our phones, watches, tablets, portable computers, and likely, in the near future, our smart glasses, we interact with the internet on a minute-to-minute basis – far more constantly than most of us did even two or three years ago.
This is mostly to our benefit when it comes to productivity, efficiency, entertainment, and even safety. However, our increasingly connected state also leads to an extra level of digital security risk that many of us are still unaccustomed to managing.
Hackers and data thieves have become more prevalent and more sophisticated even as our tech has become more complex and commonplace. And a lot of the features and practices we’re getting used to using on a daily basis can leave us more vulnerable than we realize.
Because of this, it’s important to take extra steps to improve your internet security, even (perhaps especially) when it comes to fairly basic everyday mobile practice. Here, we’ll be taking a look specifically at two major areas that can lead to digital security issues, and discuss some of the issues that can arise.
Social Media App Usage
Among the different categories of apps used across various smart devices, social media is one that is among the most frequently used. However, social media apps can also end up being some of the riskiest and most vulnerable mobile programs you have if you’re not careful about how you engage with them.
To give one example, when posting images and content on social media apps like Twitter or Facebook, you could be conveying extra information you weren’t expecting, essentially attached to the photos and content you do mean to share.
This is because certain types of phones track the location at which a photo was taken or a post was written, usually for the purposes of cataloguing events in the phone’s internal image collections or other records.
While this seems harmless (and does not imply any sort of nefarious intent), the information can end up remaining in the image file when it gets uploaded to social media. By extension, then, any content you upload publicly via a social media app can effectively be broadcasting your whereabouts to interested or capable hackers.
A particularly malicious digital criminal could use the information to get a detailed feel for your habits, movements, and tendencies to as to carry out a more elaborate fraud or theft against you.
Thankfully, there exist plenty of guides to help you remove this data and make sure you stay safe, provided your phone has the customization capability. Newer phones should be able to manage it, allowing you to make your social media app usage safer and more private.
Payment Systems Issues
It seems that just about every app out there these days is monetized in one creative way or another, which makes this another area of concern. Shopping apps are asking for your credit card information for microtransactions, TV and movie subscription streaming models are popping up seemingly by the week, and mobile games are connecting to mobile payment systems so as to facilitate one-touch, in-game payments.
Each of these services ultimately requires payment information – typically credit card numbers, even if indirectly – and if you’re not careful about which apps you trust, or how you handle payments, you could end up putting your payment information at risk.
It’s something we’re fairly used to seeing from time to time in the real world, in institutions ranging from banks to hotel chains. But it’s something we should be on the lookout for in the mobile realm as well.
In some cases, you can address this sort of issue by looking for specific certifications guaranteeing or even explaining security practices where an app is concerned. This is something we see for instance in the ever-expanding online gambling and casino gaming business, where people are consistently concerned with how their money may be handled during and after transactions and deposits.
If you take the care to look, you’ll see that many of the new bookmakers coming out of the UK and disseminated through mobile apps around the world have these sorts of certifications and guarantees in place. Casino gaming platforms work similarly, at least in cases when they’re run by reputable companies.
In other cases though, and with more everyday apps that also connect to our payment information, these types of reassurances aren’t asked for as often, and thus aren’t always provided as explicitly.
This makes the overall security landscape as relates to mobile payments somewhat haphazard, which in turn means that sometimes the best way to deal with concerns in this area is to focus on your device (as well as your own habits).
Phones with the most up-to-date physical and digital security, as well as mobile VPN compatibility, can get you closer to total security. Though vigilance on your part is still of the utmost importance.
All in all, our increasing connectivity and mobile device usage inevitably exposes us to greater digital security risks. By remaining aware of some of the primary areas of concern, however, and taking any steps you can to reduce risks, you can ensure that your day-to-day activity is as safe as possible.