Tips for protecting your smart devices from hackers

- FILE - Smartphone (WIVB)

Cromwell, Conn. (WTNH) – After ransomware struck Apple devices last week, a consumer group is issuing tips on how to keep your devices safe.

In this day and age our lives are constantly revolving around our smartphones and tablets. We use them for a variety of important tasks; like banking on the go, emails, taking pictures, and accessing social media. With this increase in smart device usage, also includes an increase in hacking attempts. If a device is compromised, the results can be devastating for both individuals and businesses.

According to new report from the Better Business Bureau, concerns about the safety of our smart devices increased earlier this month when it was revealed that Apple computers were infiltrated by “ransomware” for the first time. The attack hit Apple computers, but not IPhones. Ransomware shuts down access to a computer’s files unless the owner pays to remove the block. Authorities recommend against paying the ransom, because it is unlikely that “digital hostage-taker” will hold up their end of the deal.

Android devices are particularly vulnerable virus infection and hacking attempts. This is due to users possibly downloading “rogue” or infected apps from third-party sites rather than the Google Play Store. Apple also cautions users to get software only from its app store.

The new report recommends that consumers take various steps to protect their devices from intruders:

  • Review your online habits – The convenience of smart devices is what makes them risky. However, if you are on a public Wi-Fi network, avoid conducting any financial transactions or logging on to any accounts.
  • Steer clear of third party app download sites – Much of the trouble comes from infected apps. Manufacturers are very clear about this. A free download can end up being expensive if it contains malware and steals your contacts and other information. Go to the source for apps with Google Play for the Android system and the Apple App Store.
  • Watch out for unknown links – If you get a text or email from someone you don’t know – don’t go for the bait. If you click you could end up downloading a virus.
  • Find out the network name – One of the ways criminals can hack into a smart device is by creating what looks like a genuine Wi-Fi network with a name similar to that of a legitimate one. When you’re at an airport, coffee shop or any other place that provides free Wi-Fi, make sure you connect to a real network and not a hacker’s computer.
  • Install a “tracking” app. – If you lose your device, a tracker app will allow you to find the device, lock it remotely or wipe it clean. Some can even snap a photo of the person who found or stole the phone or tablet and email it to you.
  • Apply operating system updates – Whether it is your smart device, laptop or desktop computers, those updates are designed to close security holes in addition to adding functionality.
  • Finally, install a security suite for your smart device as you would for a PC. Even though hackers have been unable to launch substantial attacks on smart phones and tablets, the last decade has shown us that virtually any computer can eventually be hacked.

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