We often think about cybersecurity as more important when it comes to our desktops and laptops, but handheld devices also need attention. According to Check Point’s 2020 Cyber Security report, mobile-based attacks are on the rise and hackers are increasingly using tactics geared towards phones to gain access to company systems.

This is not surprising given the number of users now conducting company business on their personal devices. But because the threats are shifting towards mobile, individual users are just as likely to get caught up in the maelstrom, whether they’re using their phone for work or not.

Here we go over some of 2020’s biggest mobile device cybersecurity challenges. We also illustrate the ways you can keep yourself safe and avoid falling victim to an attack.

The Key Challenges in 2020

Malicious Apps

Unfortunately, not every app you can find in Apple and Google’s dedicated app stores has your best interests at heart. In fact, despite the control measure in place by the two tech giants, there are plenty of malicious apps masquerading as the real deal.

From fake banking apps designed to steal your data and your money to apps designed with the express purpose of garnering your information and selling it to third-party vendors, there is plenty to be cautious of in the app stores.

Device Vulnerabilities

If you’re one of the many users worldwide who pays very little attention to updates on your mobile devices, you may want to rethink that strategy. Manufacturers release updates to fix critical security issues, among other reasons.

So if you’ve been avoiding updating your phone, you may be inviting an attack. Unpatched operating systems (OS), whether they are iOS or Android, result in more potential access points for hackers to exploit. If you’re an Android user, you have an additional concern: some Android users are not receiving notifications that critical security fixes are available. And if you’re running an OS older than Android 8, you might not receive security fixes at all.

Man in the Middle Attacks (MitM)

One of the best things to love about mobile devices is how easy they make it for people all over the world to connect and communicate. Every day, trillions of messages are sent between users and devices, and of these messages, many contain sensitive data.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals can take advantage of this with MitM attacks and intercept data in transmission between a mobile device and a compromised wifi connection. If a hacker manages to intercept data en route to a banking service, for example, he or she can then modify the details and financially capitalize to your bank account’s detriment.

Mitigating the Cybersecurity Risks

Avoiding Malicious Apps

Unfortunately, detecting a fraudulent app before you download it is easier said than done. These apps often look exactly like the real deal, right down to the branding and tone of the copy. There are a couple of steps you can take though:

  • Never download apps from anywhere other than the official app stores
  • Verify the publisher of an app before you download it
  • Look out for the tell-tale signs of a fake app including spelling or grammatical errors and a logo that doesn’t look quite right
  • Don’t follow links to download an app unless the link is on the company’s own website. For banking apps, always go to your bank’s website first and follow the link to the official app from there.

Use VPN Protection

To avoid MitM attacks when you’re using an unknown wifi network, always connect to a VPN server first. When your Virtual Private Network app is switched on, it encrypts all of your data transmissions, making it next to impossible for any snoopers to intercept your information or decrypt it.

Keep Your Devices Updated, Always

Don’t ignore updates, even if you really can’t be bothered with them. Leaving your operating system un-updated is akin to walking out of your house for the day and leaving your front door wide open. Instead, install all updates as soon as they are available.