April 1, 2019 Channel 13 Online News
Gantz is not alone: after the break into the smartphone owned by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, DataBank CEO Oded Shahar with some special tips to help you protect your cell phone
Most people worry about their personal device being hacked into and information revealed – whether private or business-related. Have you been hacked? From here on the hacker has full access to your smartphone, its camera, its microphone, the information and all of its applications. They can read WhatsApp chats and respond in your name, access your image gallery and send photos everywhere, or store the entirely of your smartphone content, perhaps even permanently deleting its contents.
Clearly the hacking into the smartphone of Benny Gantz, former IDF Chief of Staff and prominent Prime Ministerial candidate from the Blue and White Party, has gained extensive media coverage in recent weeks. To date, the public is still questioning whether the phone was really hacked, or it was just a rumor or concern. The bad news is that smartphone hacks take place on a daily basis and will continue to do so in the future. Breaking into a smartphone is not so complicated or irregular. But just after the Gantz issue died down, reports that Amazon founder and the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, had his phone hacked by Saudi hackers.
Whether it’s important information stored on the phone – such as image galleries or documents -or sensitive data on the phone or on organizational apps installed, hacks may lead to great embarrassment, damage to companies and organizations, loss of income and finances, legal suits, blackmail, and even more.
It’s important to note that Benny Gantz is not alone. Beforehand there were quite a few celebrities whose phones (or cloud where their photos and data were stored) were hacked, and sensitive information such as SMS conversations, emails, WhatsApp chats, sensitive photos, and business or classified personal documents were exposed to hostile parties or made public. Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and many other celebrities have fallen prey to hackers who successfully penetrated cloud accounts by running tremendous amounts of passwords and locating photos of famous stars.
How are our phones hacked? Don’t be tempted to click links
One of the most common means of breaking into a smartphone is through emails sent to your email address. Usually these will include an intriguing or tempting message (phishing) that causes you to click the enclosed link. The best way to avoid this method of phishing is not to open suspicious emails, those coming from unfamiliar sources, with tempting offers like an inheritance awaiting your or a desirable product at half or no price. There are a number of additional methods of hacking: whether through MMS messages (SMS with photos) or when the cellular user clicks a banner on a certain website, leading to the hacking of their phone.
Another way to steal information from your phone is by penetrating the cloud on which your files, data, and image are stored, like what happened to the celebrities mentioned earlier. One of the customary settings on many smartphones is the automatic backup of smartphone images in a cloud environment (virtual storage / backup of photos and data on remote servers). Using sophisticated password flooding methods, hackers can discover your password and use your backed-up information as they please. Another method of overtaking your cloud storage is by sending emails that appear to be sent by Google and Apple, asking you to confirm your user name and password on imitation sites that look like these companies’ homepages. But when you enter the name and password these fraudulent sites transfer the data directly to the hacker, and from there on the ball is in their court.
How do you identify a hack? The method is not ideal, to say the least – pay attention if your phone becomes slow, or your phone’s battery runs out quicker than usual. Avoidance is the key to protecting your smartphone.
How do we prevent our smartphone from being hacked?
What can we do to avoid being one of the people whose phone was hacked? The bad news is that it’s very hard to see if your phone has been hacked or to identify the trap. The good news is that there are quite a few ways of preventing the hack, thus avoiding data loss.
Here are a few tips:
- Don’t be tempted to click links – don’t just click any link sent by ambiguous parties on email or WhatsApp. Remember there’s no such thing as a free gift. Don’t click on offers that sound unreasonable. Responsibility and vigilance are the name of the game.
- Set a complicated username and password – choose a difficult combination that includes letters and numbers. Certainly do not use 1234. Never choose your name or date of birth. Finding these details on Facebook and using them is way too simple. Change your passwords often. Sometimes the data loss can occur when your device was lost or left unattended for a while, and any anonymous finder can use the information as they please – e.g. accessing your Facebook or bank account. In order to avoid theft of data in this way, use protection like passwords or biometric identification.
- Transfer sensitive information to external backup – avoid using your smartphone which automatically backs up any photo – sensitive photos that may embarrass you if revealed. If such photos or videos exist on your phone, store them on external backup. Portable drives with huge memories are accessible anywhere, at reasonable cost.
- Use secured IM apps – there are several secured messaging apps out there. Try moving your sensitive information to them. Which is considered the safest and most encrypted? Those who allow automatic deletion of messages after several seconds without any cloud storage. Thus, the number of confidential and sensitive messages you send and receive will be significantly reduced on your phone, and in case of a hack, less information will be revealed.
- Use secured cell phones – there are especially secure smartphones designated for military or executive use. Purchase of such a phone is far from cheap, but if you want to enjoy the benefits of modern communication, secure phones can be an efficient solution.
- Install designated mobile security solutions – as the number of threats in the mobile world is constantly on the rise, designated mobile solutions are also appearing in droves (in the professional lingo, they’re called End Point Security), aimed at preventing theft of sensitive business data. These solutions allow for remote control of devices that have been lost or hacked. This software creates a barrier between the cell phone’s personal and business memories, preventing access to organizational apps installed on the phone, to email, or other tools. In addition, these solutions can prevent viewing websites defined by IT managers as dangerous or suspect, and even locate viruses or flaws on a device, which indicate possible hacking.
- Report any hack – Wouldn’t you go to the police if your home was broken into and valuable possessions stolen? You probably would. Perhaps the thief will be caught, preventing the next crime. Sometimes when a private phone or that of a senior executive has been hacked, people tend to hide it – not to be exposed to humiliation or to harm the organization’s reputation. But failure to report these incidents leads to no action, which enables the criminals to continue unimpeded. Report any hacking or theft to the IT managers at your company, or when necessary, to the police.