(KTVI) - Mobile devices are a treasure trove of information that`s easy to steal, from personal files and contacts stored on the phone to mobile banking and personal wallet apps. Left unprotected, it`s all there for the taking.
Many hackers are looking for is what`s the easiest, lowest risk to break into systems.
Dave Chronister runs a St. Charles-based computer security firm called Parameter.
He says mobile devices are low-risk because people don`t think of them as computers. They don`t protect them the same way they do a laptop or desktop.
Mobile devices use applications from app stores which are filled with millions of downloadable programs, some of them with potentially malicious software called malware.
If you look at the Android and Apple`s store, and even Blackberry and Microsoft, it`s use at your own risk.
There`s also the issue of public wi-fi networks and Bluetooth connectivity. If you're not careful, it`s like putting a welcome mat out for hackers to come right in.
With Bluetooth, it`s a whole new world of hacking, everything from being able to call out using your phone number to stealing data off your system.
Chronister downloaded a free app from the Android store that identifies Bluetooth enabled devices within range, and it’s accessible on any iPhone.
With just a little more work, any hacker could have access and hijack any phone.
You should only download an app from your phone`s store.
Cindy Tetrault is in charge of online and mobile banking for Commerce Bank.
She`s got two good tips:
- Always install the latest updates for your phone`s operating system and your installed apps. Doing this you`ll make sure all known security flaws are patched.
- Choose a banking password that`s different from the one to access your phone.
Download a good antivirus or mobile security app. While not perfect, it's an added layer of protection.
When it comes to wi-fi and Bluetooth, avoid using public, unsecured networks for all personal transactions. Instead, use a secure personal hotspot instead where you control the password and access.
Be especially carefully with Bluetooth. If you have Bluetooth activated, anyone can hack your phone. It`s called Bluejacking. When you`re not actively using Bluetooth, turn it off.
Tips From the FBI To Protect Your Computer:
The same advice parents might deliver to young drivers on their first solo journey applies to everyone who wants to navigate safely online. A special agent in our Cyber Division offered the following:
- "Don't drive in bad neighborhoods."- "If you don't lock your car, it's vulnerable; if you don't secure your computer, it's vulnerable."
- "Reduce your vulnerability, and you reduce the threat."
Below are some key steps to protecting your computer from intrusion:
- Keep Your Firewall Turned On: A firewall helps protect your computer from hackers who might try to gain access to crash it, delete information, or even steal passwords or other sensitive information. Software firewalls are widely recommended for single computers. The software is prepackaged on some operating systems or can be purchased for individual computers. For multiple networked computers, hardware routers typically provide firewall protection.
- Install or Update Your Antivirus Software: Antivirus software is designed to prevent malicious software programs from embedding on your computer. If it detects malicious code, like a virus or a worm, it works to disarm or remove it. Viruses can infect computers without users' knowledge. Most types of antivirus software can be set up to update automatically.
- Install or Update Your Antispyware Technology: Spyware is just what it sounds like—software that is surreptitiously installed on your computer to let others peer into your activities on the computer. Some spyware collects information about you without your consent or produces unwanted pop-up ads on your web browser. Some operating systems offer free spyware protection, and inexpensive software is readily available for download on the Internet or at your local computer store. Be wary of ads on the Internet offering downloadable antispyware—in some cases these products may be fake and may actually contain spyware or other malicious code. It's like buying groceries—shop where you trust.
- Keep Your Operating System Up to Date: Computer operating systems are periodically updated to stay in tune with technology requirements and to fix security holes. Be sure to install the updates to ensure your computer has the latest protection.
- Be Careful What You Download: Carelessly downloading e-mail attachments can circumvent even the most vigilant anti-virus software. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don't know, and be wary of forwarded attachments from people you do know. They may have unwittingly advanced malicious code.
- Turn Off Your Computer: With the growth of high-speed Internet connections, many opt to leave their computers on and ready for action. The downside is that being "always on" renders computers more susceptible. Beyond firewall protection, which is designed to fend off unwanted attacks, turning the computer off effectively severs an attacker's connection—be it spyware or a botnet that employs your computer's resources to reach out to other unwitting users.
For more information on Internet schemes and how to protect yourself online, see the following areas