Our smartphones have in recent years become an indispensable part of our lives. From entertainment to working while commuting, we use them for a variety of tasks on a daily basis. We have in fact become so dependent on them that we rarely pause to think about how much we use them – and about how much data they collect, store and process about us and our everyday activities.
Yet in an age of cyber-attacks and companies sometimes stealthily accessing or using our data, we cannot afford to not consider this and take necessary steps to secure this wealth of information that rests in the palm of our hand.
Understanding the risks in order to Address them
In an era where data has been celebrated as the new currency, data security has risen to the forefront of our concerns – especially for enterprises that often need to hold and process large volumes of data related to their customers, their employees, or third parties like vendors. This includes employing best practices such as data risk analytics in order to identify critical vulnerabilities and prevent data breaches, which could compromise the business’s reputation and also prove particularly costly to mitigate.
Data discovery and classification, which allows companies to understand what types of data sets they hold and protect them accordingly – e.g. by employing more safeguards in the case of sensitive data – is also considered crucial across organizations.
Lastly, after identifying the risks, it is important to implement security techniques like data masking, which replaces critical information with fictitious data that looks just like the real thing in order to throw hackers off their tracks, or file security through monitoring and incident response in order to keep data safe from prying hands.
Just like companies, private users also need to take data security very seriously and take steps to make sure that their information stays secure. This is slightly tricky, as while business cybersecurity is widely considered as a top priority, many individuals do not realize the importance of doing the same for their personal data that is processed through the devices they use privately.
Just like in the case of business data security, individuals should start off by discovering the types and volume of data stored and processed by their devices in order to then identify the risks and employ the necessary tools to protect themselves.
When it comes to computers, either desktop or laptop, cybersecurity has to a relatively high degree become part of everyday parlance – especially after the devastating ransomware attacks of the past couple of years, as well as scandals like the Cambridge Analytica incident. Yet the need to protect our personal data on our mobile devices, like our tablets and especially our smartphones, is still largely overlooked.
Android powers the mobile market – but what about Security?
This is particularly concerning when we take into account the staggering rise of the mobile devices market: according to research, as of June 2019, the mobile market has reached a 50.71% market share, surpassing the desktop market at 45.53%, as opposed to 47.9% and 48.27% respectively in May 2019. The tablet market share remains relatively stable at 3.76% in June 2019, compared with 3.85% in June 2018. Most of these mobile devices are powered by Android, which has managed to establish a deeply rooted dominance, especially in the smartphone market.
Also Read: Everything about Google Play Protect
According to Statista, in 2018, 1,405 million smartphones were sold, with a whopping 85.1% of them using Android and the remaining 14.9% having iOS as their operating system. By contrast, in 2010, smartphone sales amounted to 305 million, with only 23.3% running on Android and 15.6% on iOS. 16% used BlackBerry and a further 4.9% turned to Windows Phone, while the lion’s share of a combined 40.2% ran on other operating systems. The matter of Android security should be a priority for private users, just as installing an antivirus is a priority for laptop users.
You will find more infographics at Statista
This becomes clear once we consider what kind of data our smartphone collects about us: from location data to online browsing activity, and from web banking to your emails and photos, any hacker would be truly happy to get their hands on your device. The best way to approach this is by being proactive.
If you are an app developer, Android publishes security tips and best practices to make sure that your apps are as secure as possible for users. These include using the Android Application Sandbox to isolate your app, encrypting the file system so that users can protect their information when their device is lost or stolen, as well as building in user privileges and permissions in order to customize access to user data by the mobile app.
Android also recommends using tech like ASLR, NX, Linux and mmap_min_addr in order to address security issues linked to common memory management errors.
As for private users, they must ensure that they update their OS regularly in order to install the latest patches and use security tools like two-factor authentication to unlock accounts used on their device, like their Google account. Device encryption should also be turned on and it is advisable to use a VPN when using a public Wi-Fi.
Last but not least, as mobile apps power smartphones, users should always be cautious and only install apps from trusted providers, manage app access privileges and consents, as well as uninstall apps they no longer use.