Mobile device use has skyrocketed, with more than six billion mobile subscribers worldwide now relying on smartphones and tablets to stay connected wherever they are, according to an International Telecommunication Union estimate. Whether used for personal or business purposes, mobile devices have made it much more convenient for people to stay productive, keep in touch and find entertainment and information on the go. 

But that convenience comes with a price: There are hidden dangers associated with mobile devices that users and their employers often only discover when it’s too late. Here are some of the hidden dangers – and tips to address them:

Lost or Stolen Devices

Misplaced or stolen smartphones and tablets can pose a huge security risk. The devices may contain sensitive data such as personal or corporate bank information or sensitive company sales, product or client information – all of which could pose a problem if it falls into the wrong hands. And with mobile device theft on the rise, it’s important to put safeguards in place.

One way enterprises and individuals can address this danger is by downloading software that enables them to locate lost or stolen devices and remotely wipe data. Companies should also improve security awareness among employees and make sure they know not to store confidential business data on mobile devices.

Inadequate Password Protection

Compromised passwords are among the most common causes of data loss. Weak passwords enable hackers to gain access to confidential information like bank accounts and sensitive business data, which can wreak havoc on personal finances for consumers and devastate a business by compromising customer information.

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to address this vulnerability. Mobile device users can make sure their passwords are tough to crack by using a combination of letters and numbers or symbols. Users should avoid using birthdays or anniversaries as passwords or words like children’s or pets’ names or the names of favourite sports teams as these are often easily available on social media sites, making it simple for hackers to gain unauthorised access.

Weak Security Settings

Weak security settings are another major vulnerability for mobile device users. Mobile Wi-Fi is one access point favoured by hackers, as are unsecured connections and apps that are designed to give hackers access to confidential information.

Mobile device users can reduce their vulnerability by disabling mobile Wi-Fi access and making sure they download apps only from trusted sources. It’s also a good idea to avoid unsecured connections, using sites that begin with “https://” only, and to set up mobile device browsers to automatically clear the cache upon startup. Businesses should make sure employees who use mobile devices on the job are aware of these vulnerabilities: Training on safer mobile device use as well as policies and information security technology can reduce the risks.

Committing to Safer Mobile Device Use

Mobile devices are a great way to stay connected and productive, but it’s important for users to be aware of the hidden dangers of mobile device use. Having a plan to secure a lost or stolen device is the first step, and strengthening passwords and security settings can also make mobile browsing safer. For businesses, it’s critical to make sure employees know how to operate the mobile devices they use on the job securely.

Being aware of the dangers and developing a mobile information security mindset is the best way to safeguard sensitive data, for businesses and consumers. New cyber threats are emerging every day, so mobile device users who want to make sure their information is protected need to commit to safer usage for the long term.

For consumers, this means finding out about emerging vulnerabilities and taking steps to address them. For businesses, it means developing a culture of security and committing to ongoing employee training. This strategy allows people to take advantage of the convenience of mobile devices while addressing their hidden dangers.