6 Tips for Protecting Your Phone from Hackers

Are you worried about protecting your device from phone hackers? You should. Most of the strategies for protecting your phone rely on users making cautious, careful choices, so a little worry goes a long way.
One thing is clear, though: this is a real problem that needs more attention.
The recent news of Pegasus spyware attacks perpetrated by numerous nations against journalists, political activists and others was chilling. The spyware was so effective that simply receiving — not even opening — an iMessage on an iPhone was enough to get infected.
While stories like Pegasus show that no phone is 100% safe from hackers, you can take certain steps to protect yourself and limit the risk of getting hacked.

1. Buy from Mainstream Phone Brands

First, when it’s time to buy a new phone, stick to mainstream, well-known phone brands. Don’t buy a cheap phone from overseas that you have to import yourself, especially if it’s from a brand you’ve never heard of or is priced way lower than it should be. You could be buying a phone already loaded up with spyware and malware.
By buying new or from reputable refurbished and used marketplaces, you’ll lower your chances of exposure.

2. Consider Security When Choosing Your Mobile OS

Generally speaking, iOS is regarded as more secure than Android. That doesn’t mean iOS is hacker-proof, as the Pegasus attack showed. But it’s less susceptible to malicious apps, sideloading, and several other threat vectors.
If you do choose Android, choose a new-enough handset (and from a well-known brand) so that you can update to the latest version of Android. Outdated OS builds are another threat vector.

3. Download Only Trusted Apps from Companies You’ve Heard Of

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if an app looks spammy, scammy or suspicious, it probably is. If it promises something that seems like it’d be against your app store’s terms of service, that’s another red flag. The same is true if the app has alarmingly low review scores.
In general, only downloading apps that you trust from companies that are well known will keep you out of a lot of trouble. Again, the Google Play Store is a riskier place than Apple’s App Store. But bad apps slip through on both, and some of them could open you up to hacking schemes.

4. Don’t Open Texts from Unknown Numbers

The vast majority of actual hacking, malware and spyware schemes on smartphones come via text message — especially those with links in them. If you get a text from an unknown number and there isn’t strong evidence from the preview that it’s from a real person you know, don’t even open it. Delete it from the menu if possible.
This is a problem on both Android and iOS. Both have patched the specific vulnerabilities, but new ones can crop up from time to time.

5. Don’t Click Links in Said Texts

If you open a text and there’s a link in it, be very cautious about clicking that link — even if it came from a friend or seems to be from a brand you trust. This is because that link from your friend could have been sent as a result of malware on that person’s phone, and clicking it could infect your phone, too.
Along the same lines, an urgent text from “Verizon” or “Apple” pressuring you to click a link and resolve an account problem has a high likelihood of being fake. Chances are, hackers are trying to steal your credentials, or worse.

6. Watch Out for Phishing Campaigns

Last, watch out for phishing campaigns. For example, you receive an email or a text that looks like it’s from somewhere official. It could be a company you do business with, like Microsoft or Apple. On the other hand, it could look like a government agency, a bill collector, or any host of important people and entities.
Whoever it appears to be from, the message will be an urgent one, telling you about some problem with dire consequences if you don’t fix it. But don’t click anything! It’s a trap, 99% of the time.
In phishing campaigns, phone hackers are trying to scare you into moving quickly without thinking hard. But once you click the link and provide your login credentials, you won’t get to a page that resolves anything.
You’ll probably get some kind of error. But the bad guys? They just got your real, live login for whatever site or service they were impersonating.
If you’re not sure if an email is real or phishing, call or manually navigate to the website of the group in question. If there’s an actual problem with your account, you’ll find it when you log in the normal way.

Upsie: Protection for More Physical Threats to Your Phone

Although an Upsie warranty can’t protect you from phone hackers, it can protect your devices from physical, real-world problems like defects and accidental damage.
Upsie’s smartphone subscription warranties protect you from drops, spills, component failures, and product defects. Additionally, you can purchase a warranty for any US-released smartphone regardless of when you bought the phone. And when you don’t have to worry about your phone’s physical safety as much, you can focus on protecting it from digital threats like hacking and phishing.
Ready to get protected? Get an Upsie warranty now.

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.