A smartphone is a regular part of most people’s lives these days. Unfortunately, many don’t treat their devices with the attention they deserve. If you think about all the volumes of personal information that you’re either storing directly on your device or can access remotely through it, it doesn’t make sense to be so careless about its security.
People are used to locking their doors and cars, keeping their valuables tucked away at home, and other basic, common sense security principles. However, when it comes to digital devices, we still see a large number of users failing to do things as simple as locking their devices with a password. Skipping application and operating system updates is another common mistake, and it can have severe repercussions, making it an important point to look into.
If you’re not convinced, here are some potential dangers you face by remaining careless about updates.
Viruses and Exploits
Application updates often include security fixes. Hackers keep trying to poke holes in the protection of every popular app and platform out there, while the developers behind those platforms spend a lot of time hunting down those holes and closing them. Using an outdated version of an app means that you’re more susceptible to the various security exploits associated with it.
You don’t even have to be targeted explicitly – you might just visit a website that displays a corrupted advert with malicious code, and your entire device could be compromised, depending on the severity of the issue.
On that note, skipping application and Android updates might lead to you having one or more of your accounts compromised. And if it happens to be your primary e-mail, someone could potentially damage you a lot. Just think about how many accounts you have with various websites and services out there that can be hijacked by clicking “I forgot my password” and gaining access to the associated e-mail.
Using a Virtual Private Network is another good security measure you can take against account takeovers, especially on Android devices that connect to suspicious networks. Even if your OS is clean of any viruses, you might still get caught by someone snooping on your internet traffic over a poorly secured Wi-Fi network.
Loss of Data or Money
Information is an invaluable asset these days, and we have to treat it with the importance that it deserves. Having your device compromised through an outdated app could lead to your data falling into the wrong hands. Depending on the exact nature of that data, the impact on your life could be severe.
You might even end up losing money from this – if you have a PayPal account, for example, someone might log into it and send some money their way. Depending on how they set up the transaction, it might be irreversible, and PayPal will not be able to help you.
Another angle to worry about is potential blackmail. You might not think that this can affect you, but the truth is that everyone has something going on in their lives that can be twisted in unusual ways and used against them. This is important to understand because someone tracking you through a compromised device can collect a lot of information about your usage habits and other similar details, and later use it against you. For example, asking you for money to avoid leaking something embarrassing.
It’s hard to protect oneself against these types of attacks when they’re personally targeted, but you can at least go a long way towards avoiding broader, wider-sweeping attacks that try to catch as many unprotected users as possible.
Ransomware is a classic recent example of how security exploits can be turned into actual blackmail, and many people have fallen victim to such incidents already. While the numbers have died down recently due to actions that were taken by various developers, people who remain careless about the security of their devices are still at risk.
Avoiding a large number of potential issues comes down to something as simple as following up on those regular update prompts instead of skipping them. Sure, they seem annoying and might interfere with your regular work for a while but dealing with those updates in a timely manner is the only way to ensure that your system will be protected against the majority of attacks out in the wild. The rest comes down to common sense and a proactive approach to your security.