Protecting your phone and private information

Consumer

A 7NEWS Consumer Exclusive

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — Your cell phone, arguably your most prized possession, is also increasingly valuable to scammers.  And now a new type of hack is putting your personal information more at risk than ever because you don’t even need to click anything to fall victim.  

Depending on whether you have an iPhone or an Android, there are two easy solutions for how to protect your private info in this 7News Consumer Exclusive.

NO CLICK SPYWARE:

IT Expert Kevin Hodges with USC Upstate warns there’s a new category of phone hacks that are changing the game.  So-called “no-click” spyware that sneaks onto users’ phones without them doing a thing.  

It’s a huge shift from thinking that our phones are protected, to not at all. Because they’re really not,” said Hodges.

One such malware, Pegasus out of Israel, infected phones by simply placing a call to users through WhatsApp even when they didn’t pick up or sending an iMessage that isn’t read.  

“Pegasus is huge in that they are using exploits in phones and software to install massive pieces of software that can do data mining from your phone and can do it without your input in any way shape or form.  That’s huge.”

TWO SIMPLE SOLUTIONS:

For months, the only quick fix was to simply turn your phone off and on, and the program, that lives in your phone’s memory will be deleted.   That is still the most current solution for Android users.  

But this month Apple announced an emergency security update for its iOS operating system that fixes the flaw.

APP HACKS:

While, to date, spyware like Pegasus has mainly targeted high-profile individuals, other types of phone hacks that blanket large populations are on the rise.

Alex Hy at Stay Mobile in Spartanburg says, for one, the Google Play store is flooded with fake apps that are malware in disguise.

“There’s a lot of those out there and if they for some reason have a date on them like ‘clean booster 2019 or 2020’ any of those, don’t do it, they are a trap,” said Hy.

Also, beware of links in text messages from unknown sources that could download malicious code on your phone.

NETWORK HACKS:

And then there are public network vulnerabilities.

“There is one that is really well known called a man in the middle attack.  There are people out there that have the equipment to duplicate the network and essentially will trick you into connecting to that network. So a ‘man in the middle’ gets all your information while you’re unaware of it all happening,” said Hy.

UPDATE APPS:

As we mentioned, it’s more important than ever to take advantage of those security updates so you should always have the latest operating system on your phone.  But don’t stop there.  After you set up automatic OS updates don’t forget to go to your app store and update all your apps, too.

DETERING HACKERS:

Finally, take your passwords seriously by not only making them intricate but changing them frequently.  And use 2-step-authentication so it makes it more difficult for criminals to crack your accounts.  

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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