Smartphone strategies: Smartphones can be a boon to us humans but it is also a gateway to information and sensitive data that can be misused if it goes wrong. To keep users safe from spyware and potential malware, the US Government Agency for Cyber Security, the National Counter Intelligence and Security Center (NCSC), has released a bulletin to help users stay more vigilant and secure with surveillance devices. The NCSC highlighted that companies and individuals are selling commercial surveillance equipment to governments and other entities that have been used for malicious purposes.
What can a surveillance device do?
- These tools can record audio, including phone calls.
- You can track the location of the phone.
- Almost all content on the phone can be accessed and retrieved, including text messages, files, chats, commercial messaging app content, contacts and browsing history.
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What can be done about such monitoring devices?
- While it may be difficult to know if you are specifically targeted, the agency lists some steps one can follow to stay safe in the future.
- Regularly update the device’s operating system and mobile app.
- Avoid opening links or attachments sent by people unfamiliar to you.
- Don’t click on suspicious links or suspicious emails and attachments.
- Check the URL or go directly to the website before clicking on the link.
- Restart the mobile device regularly, which helps to remove or damage the malware.
- Encryption and password protect your device.
- Maintain physical control of your device whenever possible.
- Use a trusted virtual private network.
- Select Geolocation on the device and disable the cover camera.
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The company claims that these pointers help users stay safe, but there is no guarantee they will protect you in the event of a hack. To be safe, it is advisable to be careful with sensitive data and to assume that the device is already tampered with.
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