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Stay on top of these four cyber threats to protect your business

As O2 research shows, many employees will choose to continue working from home after the pandemic. There are many advantages to this, but it’s also led to a large increase in cyber-crime, with many criminals targeting individuals not just businesses.

UK businesses have lost over £6.2 million to cyber scams over the past year – with a 31% increase in cases during the height of the pandemic (May-June 2020). We’re often reminded to secure our computers and laptops but not everyone thinks about securing their smartphone. And with today’s tech, we hold a lot of personal information on them, like bank details or stored passwords. Not to mention what additional business information we hold like contracts, customer details or strategic plans.

So how do you protect your people, your business and your customers? We asked cyber security expert Suhail Ansari, Senior VP at O2 partner McAfee, about ways to keep smartphones in safe hands.

1. Watch out for SMSishing

“If you’ve looked into email protection, then you’re probably familiar with phishing. Phishing still mostly comes in the form of malicious links in emails. But there is a growing form of phishing that targets mobile devices, called SMSishing,” advises Suhail.

If you receive a text that looks suspicious, here’s what you can do:

    • Check the sender – if the text claims to be from your bank or credit card provider, find the official number on their website and call them directly to check if the text is real
    • Don’t click any links within the message
    • Delete the message and block the sender

It’s also worth investing in security for your phone. This can automatically alert you to a threat as and when it arises. And remove any of the guesswork from mystery senders.

2. Keep an eye on your wifi

You can access public wifi everywhere. While this is ideal for checking emails or invoices on the go, you need to know that you’re on a reputable wifi network. Often some people are tricked into thinking they are connected but are actually unknowingly part of a wifi scam known as ‘evil twin’.

“These are fake networks with generic names that trick unsuspecting users into connecting somewhere else instead of the real network. You might think you’re connected to the proper network when you’re actually on a fake network. This allows criminals access to your handset,” Suhail explains.

So, how can your people spot the signs of a fake network?

    • Look for password-protected networks and purposely enter an incorrect password. If you find you’re still allowed access, the network is probably a fraud
    • Pay attention to how long web pages take to load. If the network seems slow, a cyber-criminal might be using an unreliable mobile hotspot to connect your mobile device to the web
    • Invest in a virtual private network (VPN). If you accidentally connect to a malicious network, your VPN will encrypt any online activity and protect your data

3. Apps to avoid

“Fake apps have become a big problem for Android and iPhone users alike. After users download a faulty app, cyber-criminals deploy malware that operates in the background of mobile devices. This makes it hard for people to recognise anything’s wrong,” says Suhail.

Once the app’s been downloaded, the malware runs in the background and siphons off the data.

These apps can be avoided with little effort:

    • Check for any typos or poor grammar
    • If an app has a surprisingly low number of downloads, then it’s probably one to avoid
    • Read the reviews and take note of any bad ones 

4. Not always black and white

Grayware is the term for software or code that sits in the grey area between ‘normal’ and ‘malicious’. It comes in plenty of forms too. From adware to ‘madware’, this spyware can infiltrate devices from an app.

“Once a mobile device is infected with madware from a malicious app, ads can infiltrate almost every part of someone’s phone. Madware isn’t just annoying. It’s also a security and privacy issue because some of it will try to obtain data that’s important to your business,” Suhail confirms.

There are ways to avoid it:

    • Get your people to update their phones to prevent any vulnerabilities
    • Ask them to double-check any apps they’ve downloaded
    • Invest in a mobile security system to protect all your business phones

We can help

Staying cyber-aware is about protecting all of your devices, not just your computers and laptops. Reminding people that cyber-criminals may try to target them on their phones will help. For peace of mind, you should also consider security tools that can protect all of your devices. This is where O2 can help with the right advice.

We’re your one-stop-shop for all essential tech. We’ll give you a range devices, productivity and connectivity tools. And we’ll help to secure it all too. When you purchase a security product, like McAfee for Business, we’ll help you get it set up with our ‘Welcome to’ service. We’ll also give you access to dedicated O2 support whenever you need it.

Talk to our team today to find out what security solutions we can offer your business. Or read more about McAfee for Business here.

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