Friday, 3 February 2023

A bit on mobile phone use, and security...

Mobile phones – a curse or a blessing? Well, frankly speaking it just depends how each and everyone of us who have one, use it. For a start I believe most people do not use the available security methods. For instance if you have a VPN this can work on multiple (usually about 5) electronic devices. My phone automatically switches to the VPN. You ought to switch off Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication) if not needed. Apparently Apple Pay does not allow NFC to be switched off. Google Pay does. Most important don’t forget to set a proper password. Use the three word or more system and perhaps intersperse the words with a symbol as well! If you are afraid you will forget your passwords, look at a password manager. The best free one is Bitwarden, there is a paid for one as well but the free one is more than sufficient for most users. Bitwarden will need a master password so use one you will remember as it is the ONLY one you will have to.

Insofar as Google use is concerned I learned from a TV documentary that there are criminals now using this to hoodwink users. In some fashion when in your searches on the web you have clicked on a ‘promising’ website it may have been hijacked. It pays to be vigilant. My mantra is – Do not act on advertisements in any way. If you are interested in a product, by all means look at the adverts but then leave the website and then visit the company's website separately. At least you will know you are where you want to be and not on a site from criminals. The other good safety you can have is a Yubikey. I use one and this way your Google account cannot be used by anyone else. Your key can also be used with mobile phones (via NFC). A simple tap will identify you. It costs some £60 but it is worth every penny. You can set up the key with a host of companies as well. I have to say that the UK is a bit behind with companies that can work with the Yubikey. Tesco for instance, although they are working on it.

Tesco has finally allowed GPay (Google Pay) and as long as you possess a phone with NFC capability (not all cheaper mobiles have the technology) you can pay with your phone and also link your ‘Clubcard’. In fact you can link all your bank cards. It is therefore doubly important to have a strong screenlock pincode. Today you may see what is known as a QR Code, a sort of block image you point your phone to and it will load a webpage. I would advise users NOT to use this unless you’re 100% sure it is genuine. Fraudsters have used QR Codes already and even if you think you are logging in to your bank you are directed to what looks like your bank but isn’t. I do not use QR Codes by choice. If I want to go to a website I will always first and foremost use their URL( Uniform Resource Locator), the correct website address. Remember, fraudsters if impersonating a company, use an address that looks almost the same but invariably there are differences. It pays to be vigilant, your mobile is a gateway to the world but like any gate it can be entered from the other side! So don’t leave it open!

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