Cyber Security Tip #8: 12 Steps to Protect Your Cell Phone from Impostors

With two-thirds of Americans owning a smartphone, it is becoming more important for users to take steps to protect themselves against cell phone fraud and scams.  In recognition of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the American Bankers Association suggests the following 12 steps to protect the data on your mobile device. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your email, texts and other information if your device is lost or stolen. Log out completely and close the app when you finish a mobile banking session. Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren’t very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network. Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.” Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps. Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device. Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected. Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device. Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information. Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software. Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately. #‎NCSAM

Supervisor Johnson Warns of Spying through Android Based Flashlight Apps

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to warn the public of a new cyber threat affecting mobile devices.  According to a threat assessment report done by SnoopWall, an international counter surveillance security software company, the top 10 free flashlight apps in Android’s Google Play store contain malware that allow hackers to spy and gather personal information.  “Nearly half a billion installations of these apps have occurred causing major concern,” Supervisor Johnson, 1st Vice Chairman of the National Association of Counties Cyber Security Task Force Team, stated.  “While these apps may be a great convenience for users who need to find their house keys in the dark, they are posing a great security threat to every user who installs them,” Johnson continued. According to the report, users who install these apps are unknowingly giving hacker’s permission to locate them through GPS, read their personal information stored on the device, view personal photos and videos and even gain access to their financial information.  “Users who have installed the flashlight app and do mobile banking through their device are at a greater risk for exposure because of the vulnerability found in these apps,” Johnson said.  According to SnoopWall CEO, Gary Miliefsky, the average size of a flashlight app should be no more than 72 kilobytes.  The size of these flashlight apps are ranging anywhere from 1.2 to 5 megabytes.  “These hackers are embedding more code than necessary into these popular apps which allows them to collect personal data and spy on the cell phone user,” Johnson said. While the report done by SnoopWall focused on the top 10 Android apps, it did mention that Windows and Apple iOS users should still remain cautious when downloading third party apps. The following are ways users can increase their privacy and security to avoid some of these vulnerabilities on their mobile device: Disable your GPS at all times except in an emergency or when needed for navigation purposes; Disable the NFC (Near Field Communications) or on Apple devices, iBeacon, permanently (; Disable Bluetooth at all times except when needed to make hands-free calls Verify apps behavior and privacy risk BEFORE installing – do some research and ask the questions “why does this app need GPS, MICROPHONE, WEBCAM, CONTACTS, etc.?” – most apps don’t need these ports unless they want to invade your privacy. Find an alternative before installing risky apps. To read the full report done by SnoopWall, please visit: