23 September 2021
With the rapid advancement of the technological age, people are increasingly reliant on the convenience of their smart phones for almost everything, from business to shopping, online payments to banking and from social media and photographs to entertainment and sending emails, but few use them safely, leaving themselves vulnerable to cyber security breaches.
According to Al Baraka Bank's Head: Risk Management, Mr Luqman Issadeen, cyber criminals prey on this oversight to gain the personal information of users, potentially enabling them to gain access to their finances.
"Technology has moved so rapidly, that we focus all our attention on the benefits of its usage, taking for granted such things as ordering lunch, securing an Uber or downloading from the internet. We daily transmit huge amounts of personal information, but generally pay little attention to the threat of hacking by criminals in search of the personal information of mobile phone users," he warned.
Mr Issadeen added: "Scams are becoming worryingly sophisticated and personalised, inclusive of calls ostensibly being made by an individual's mobile service provider about a SIM swap or monitoring an individual's emails and hacking personal details, with a view defrauding the individual's bank account. Equally, we are becoming increasingly susceptible to viruses on our mobile devices, with viruses growing as rapidly as the number of apps we download. Many mobile threats now originate in hidden apps. These hidden apps are just one aspect of today's cyber threat. We need to be aware of fake apps, bank Trojans and crypto-mining, which also have the potential to threaten our mobile security and personal information."
He stressed the need to initiate steps to prevent hackers accessing personal data, photographs and messages.
"We should not be afraid of using today's technology, because it makes our lives so much easier, but - equally - we must ensure that we take necessary precautions to prevent cyber attacks of the mobile devices in which so much of our lives and information is contained. Above all else, do not provide personal information via mobile. Never respond to email or text requests for any of your bank account details from a service provider or any business and do not click on links contained in unsolicited emails and text messages. Rather contact the service provider or business concerned by phone to confirm whether such a request has been made," Mr Issadeen advised.
He offered further tips to avoid mobile security breaches, encouraging phone users to use pin, password, pattern or, if available, fingerprint modes to lock and unlock devices, adding that apps should only be downloaded from trusted stores, such as the Apple App Store or Google Play™. He stressed that available ratings and reviews be checked with regard to which phone features a particular app will have access to, if downloaded.
It is further becoming increasingly easy to crack passwords, hence the critical need to update passwords to a minimum of 10 characters.
"It is also important to regularly update your operating system and apps, as these will offer the prospect of tightened security. In addition, uninstall any apps which may no longer be necessary. In particular, be very careful about connecting to and conducting transactions on public Wi-Fi and turn off both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when they are not in use so as to prevent the possibility of cyber criminals using them to connect to your mobile and accessing information."
"Lastly, always be doubly sure that you have logged-out after completing online transactions, especially when conducting banking business or shopping on your smart phone and never store any user-names or passwords on your mobile device," said Mr Issadeen.