My Startup World spoke to Amit Roy, the Vice President and Regional Head for EMEA at Paladion, about ways to keep smart devices secure
How vulnerable are we and what should we be careful of, while using smartphones and other smart devices?
As it is with most technologies in the market, you are at a constant security threat when using smartphones, Tablets, iPads and other devices. What people don’t understand is that not only can your smartphone be hacked, it can be done very easily without your knowledge. Even if a malicious attacker cannot get into your phone, they can try to get the sensitive data stored inside, including contacts, places visited and e-mails.
With the rise of social media use, it becomes much easier for a potential attacker to social engineer very easily, using information that you would have posted on your social media page. Having said that, , there are a few steps one can take to make sure you are safe from such security threats.
Unsecure Wi-Fi in public places should be avoided at all costs. Make sure your mobile operating system is up to date, patched with the latest security and OS patches. Do not download apps from untrusted sources. This is because, hidden inside such applications, even ones that work, could be malicious code that could let hackers steal data. It is always better to be safe, than sorry.
How can we stop smart devices from being hacked or being vulnerable to attacks?
Just a few years ago, mobile security was the last thing on most users’ minds. But today, keeping your data secure on your smartphones is just as critical as securing your desktop and laptop. Here are a few steps you can follow to keep your device and data safe:
- Set up a Passcode lock. On most modern devices you’ll be using your fingerprint to unlock the device in 98% of regular usage – so do not worry about the code being too long.
- Encrypt the storage. Most modern devices have the ability to encrypt phone storage.
- Set up remote wipe. Most mobile devices support this functionality. It is as easy as setting up iCloud on your iPhone or Google Sync on your Android device.
- Be suspicious of free download offers. Clicking on these could activate a computer virus.
- Buy applications from a trusted app store rather than from third-party sources. It’s hard to know what those third-parties’ true motivations are.
- All devices should have anti-virus software. This protects the device from malware that comes with an app that’s downloaded.
- Never “jailbreak” or “root” a mobile device. Malware can infiltrate if the walled garden of the device is broken down because the user has manipulated the device’s factory-installed operating system.
- Activate your update alerts immediately, rather than opt for “remind me later”. These updates patch up security holes so that evolving cyber-pathogens do not gain entry.
- Wi-Fi in public is not secure. If it is not secure, do not use it. If you really want to use the connection, connect to the network through a VPN service, which will encrypt all data sent and received.
Which are the most vicious attacks or malware or virus that the country experienced according to you in recent times?
According to a recent study conducted by one of the leading security vendor, revealed that spam and malicious code (malware) were among the most prevalent threats in UAE. The study also revealed that one in 199 emails contained malware, while more than half (55.2 percent) of the emails were spam. Notably, the UAE was the source of a considerably larger percentage of global spam in 2015 compared to 2014, capitulating the country’s global rank to 31st place, up 20 positions from 51st in 2014.
How can you safeguard mobile devices?
Due to the increase in use of cloud services and the concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) being implemented by a majority of companies in the region, it becomes the duty of an individual user and companies to make sure that they are not the next target for cyber-attacks and security threats. Users need to be aware what to share and what not to on any online public domains that can make them a target for such attacks. Companies on the other hand need to make sure of proper usage and security policies are in place in order to ensure there is minimal or no damage to confidential data in case of a security threat.
What is your estimation of the losses incurred by individual users and companies in UAE?
Early this year, experts alerted users about malware delivered through politically-oriented news or social networking forums using social engineering tactics to gain full access and control over the victim’s devices and files.
According to Dubai Police, in 2013 it received 352 reports of cyber crimes entailing losses to the tune of AED 13.1 million, and the number increased to 745 reports involving AED 27.9 million in 2014, and to 1,011 cases worth more than Dh40.5 million in 2015.