Record has it that about 12 million identities are stolen every year. That is, 1 million for each month. It is common knowledge that with the rising use of technology gadgets and devices, the risk has become higher.
In a recent post I mentioned the importance of writers using smart phones. But like every good thing, it comes with a risk. One of which is identity theft. I’ve written this post as a follow-up to highlight the importance of protecting your identity as you work with your smart phone.
I made a recent discovery that came as a shock to me. Of course I’ve always known that phones can be hacked and used to gain information about you. What I didn’t understand was how easy it was. I still don’t know how it fully works but I’ve discovered enough to know the tools used against a user. One word.
Let me re-phrase that. Two words.
Before I continue, let me sound a clear warning: if you don’t have an anti-virus on your phone or you haven’t activated your internet security/anti-theft, do so fast. This is not a joke. With the very apps on your phone, anyone with the right knowledge and tools could gain all kinds of information about you. And please, don’t lie to yourself by saying, ‘This could never happen to me. I’m not so important that anyone would want to steal my identity.’ Over 90% of people who had their identity stolen said the same thing. And up to this moment, a good number of them haven’t been able to figure out why they got picked as a target. Understand that you are a sane person. Trying to figure out how the mind of an insane person works is most likely beyond you, unless of course you have a degree in psychology or other related field.
After installing my anti-virus, I peeked into my privacy advisor and discovered that my apps were split into six categories, based on the kind of information they could be used to access. The apps on a phone could be used to:
- Track your approximate or precise location.
- Access your contacts/contact lists.
- Access your SMS/MMS.
- Access your web pages.
- Read your identity information.
- Access your accounts.
Track Location: These apps can be used to track your approximate location, sometimes even your precise location depending on the type of malicious app used to manipulate your apps. The list below was given by my anti-virus, not me. They include: games (I won’t specify which but my anti-virus was specific), webcam/camera360, facebook, flashshare, google play store, palmchat, twitter, update agent, whats-app, wordpress (or any other blog app). On my phone, I discovered twelve of them.
Access Contacts: These apps can be used to hack into your contact list so that the person after you is aware of everyone who holds some form of importance in your life, whether family, friends, colleagues or business acquaintances. Apps that can be used to do this include: your anti-virus, camcard, facebook, flashshare, games, Go keyboard (or any android keyboard), goodreads, LinkedIn, palmchat, pinterest, twitter, update agent, whats-app, Y! Mail. I discovered fourteen of them on my phone.
Access Messages: That is, SMS/MMS. They include: games, anti-virus, webcam/camera360, flashshare, google play store, palmchat, update agent, whats-app, Y! Mail. I discovered twelve.
Access Web Pages: These include all the browsers on your phone. There were three of them on mine.
Read Identity Information: These apps can read your mobile phone number, phone serial number and other very private data, which is quite scary. They include: games, anti-virus, camcard, webcam/camera360, facebook, flashshare, google play store, wallpaper apps, LinkedIn, palmchat, realplayer, UC Browser, update agent, whats-app, Y! Mail. There were twenty apps on my phone that could do this.
These apps by themselves are not bad, and I’m sure the cooperations that run them have done their best to hike up security the best way they know how. What I’m saying however is that there are some geniuses out there with bad intent and have got the tools to manipulate these apps and steal information. Resorting to using a lower grade phone doesn’t have to be the only option. Hence the reason you get mobile protection.
So what do you do?
- Get your phone a trust-worthy anti-virus fast. There are a good number of them out there. Pick one.
- Through your phone, register your anti-theft with your anti-virus host.
- Open your anti-virus and on the list, find your privacy advisor. Follow the necessary clicks it guides you to, and find out what apps on your phone can be used to gain these types of information about you.
- Uninstall the apps you’re sure you don’t need so you can minimize risk. The less apps you have, the better. After all, it saves your phone the battery power.
- Do everything possible to keep your anti-virus updated at all times.
- If you can afford to, turn off the internet on your phone at certain hours of the day. I personally have most of my work done offline and deal with social media and emails later. Plus, it helps maintain the discipline of not being distracted by every beeping sound from your notifications.
Is there anything I missed saying on this topic? Please share in the comment box.
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