Well, here we are at the last week in May, right before Memorial Day.  The good news is now is that summer officially kicks off on Monday, and even better yet, things are starting to open up, and yes, even here in Chi Town as well.  It means that I can finally have business meetings with prospects in a much more conducive atmosphere, rather than having to sit on a forest trail bench. 

Also, the even better news is that workers across America are will now be able to get back into their traditional cubicles, of course, taking the needed precautions that will be required.

As many of us of have worked from home (and will continue to do so), our Smartphone has even become more of an extension of both our personal and professional lives.  It was very much before COVID19 hit, but even during this pandemic, it has become even much more so. 

In fact, with all of the WFH security issues and Zoombombing that has transpired in the last couple of months or so, the issue of Smartphone security has sort of evaporated into the limelight.

But take no fear, this is what today’s blog is all about.  It is a rather light one today when compared to the others I have written recently, so enjoy.  You should note that these tips pretty much apply to the iPhone, where the iOS is used.  If you have an Android based, the principles of these tips will still work, but you will of course have a different UI/UX environment.

So, here we go:

*Use only those mobile apps that you are using right now:

Let us face it, we all love our mobile apps, whether it is coming from either Apple or Google.  But, having too many of them on your Smartphone, especially if they are not being used on a routine basis, can actually pose a security vulnerability for your iPhone.  The primary reason for this is that it can also an increase the attack surface for the Cyberattacker.  So therefore, it is always imperative that you get rid of those that you are not using or are out of date.  Keep in mind that software developers do not provide patches or upgrades if your mobile app is no longer being maintained or is no longer available for download.  Also, if you are going to download any more mobile apps, make sure you do some research on Google first to see what kind of reviews it has received.  If they are positive, then chances are that the mobile app is for real and is not a fake one.  In this regard, always make sure that you download your mobile apps from Apple, and not so much from Google.  The reason for this is that Apple maintains extremely strict requirements before a software developer can even upload their newly built mobile onto their platform.  In this way, at least you have some assurances that what you are downloading has at least been tested for any security vulnerabilities and/or weaknesses.

*Keep your Smartphone updated:

Just like downloading the required software patches and upgrades for your computer, you need to do the same as well as for your iPhone.  But the nice thing about Apple is that, when compared to Microsoft is that at least you get a message saying that a download is available, and you get a choice if you want to install them now or at some later point in time.  But, updating your iOS can take some time (the last time I did mine it took about 45 minutes or so) to get done, so make sure you do it at a time when you really don’t need to be using your iPhone.

*Be careful of location tracking functionalities:

Given the COVID19 stuff, a new buzzword that has been bandied about is the use of location tracking apps.  With this, the primary intention is to see where the virus is actually spreading and/or mutating in your neighborhood, and to keep you informed of what is going on, so that you can stay safe.  But this has also received a lot of negative publicity, because the fear is that these apps can also be used to track your location down in a covert fashion, without being given explicit permission from you to do this.  So, in this regard, you need to make sure that any third-party apps that you are using on your iPhone does not have location tracking turned on.  And yes, this even means your flashlight app.  In order to do this, go to:  Settings > Privacy > Location Services to see which apps have access to your location, as well as other items, such as your SMS messages, camera, contact lists, pictures, and even your camera.  Also, before your share your personal photos with family and friends, make sure that you have disabled the locations settings in this as well.  To do this, go to:  Share > Options > Location, and turn that off.  Also, if you have received an Email with a lot of pictures in them, delete that as well, even if it is from a legitimate organization.  The chances are that behind these embedded pictures, there could very well be some sort of tracking code which will tell that vendor if that particular has been opened up or not. 

*Use more than just your password:

For the older versions of the iOS, all that was needed was just a simple passcode in order to login.  But with the latest releases, you can now make use of Multifactor Authentication (aka MFA).  For example, you can now make use of not only your password, but you can also use a Biometric modality as well, such as that of Fingerprint Recognition (which is known as “Touch ID”) and Facial Recognition (which is also known as “Face ID”).  Biometrics is another great to confirm your identity, which is based upon your unique, physical characteristics.  Now that you have these multiple options, you should make use of them in concert with another, and not just one or the other.  Also, make sure that you use MFA for your iCloud account as well, especially if you have that synched up with your iPhone.  Remember, that if a Cyberattacker can hack into your iCloud account, they can also use that password to gain access to your device as well, or at the very least, gain access to your Personal Identifiable Information (aka PII) that has been backed up on your iCloud account.  Also, consider using a Password Manager for your iPhone as well.

*Be careful of the ads that appear:

For the iOS platform, the default Web browser is that of Safari (and yes, I do actually like this one a lot).  But with Web surfing also comes the risk of getting those notorious pop up ads that appear.  Although you can close out of them, it can be exceedingly difficult to do, because the “X” in the upper right-hand corner is too small to really even click on.  Although you may think that you have clicked upon it, in actuality, you have been taken to that advertiser’s site.  I speak from this based upon my own experience.  In more technical terms, this is also known as “Cross-Site Tracking”.  In order to disable this entirely, simply go to Settings > Safari > Prevent Cross Site Tracking.  Other options that you have:

To get rid of ads from the App Store and Apple News, go to:

Settings > Privacy > Advertising

To also get rid of other unwanted ads based upon your location, go to:

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services

My Thoughts On This

Well there you have them, 5 top tips that you can use your iPhone to get started quickly with.  Of course, this is not at all by any means an inclusive list, and you should always Google for any other relevant tips or more exhaustive lists.  As you kick off the start of summer this weekend, be also incredibly careful of mobile based, Phishing attacks.

Remember, they do not always have to come via Email, they can also come via Robocalls and fake text messages as well.  In fact, these kinds of attacks have increased by at least 45% in the last 3 months for iOS-based devices. 

Keep in mind that old mantra:  If in doubt, just delete it or hang up.