Cyber forensics expert, Preeya Ramjee, has cautioned cellphone users to be vigilant about securing the data on their mobile phones following a sharp rise in cyber theft over the past few years.
While cellphones have transformed the way we work and live, they also bring with them serious security risks, says Ramjee, Director of Forensics Services for auditing and advisory firm, Moore Stephens South Africa.
She advises cellphone users to ensure that they use their screen locks and constantly update their software.
Ramjee says an incredible amount of information stored on cellphones can be accessed very quickly if cellphone users don’t keep tabs on security.
“Using appropriate software, it is possible to dump the data from a cellphone within two to three minutes of accessing it, and then use the software to overlay call patterns and identify links to people, communication habits and GPS patterns.”
To try to avoid this, Ramjee suggests that cellphone users use a completely new e-mail address purely to register their devices. They should also use a unique, alphanumeric and not owner-specific Gmail or other address to register the device. A user’s actual e-mail address can be added as a mailbox after registration.
Ramjee says anyone who regards the information on their cellphone as confidential should never allow any third party to handle their cellphone. She has also warned of the dangers of using public Wi-Fi hotspots with low security levels.
“Public hotspots are notoriously easy to access and give someone ready access to your cellphone and online storage, including iCloud.
“Never allow your handset to be set to auto-join free hotspots. It is better not to use public hotspots. Rather pay for the data and the security that comes with it,” cautions Ramjee. She also advises against using Bluetooth on a Smartphone or any other cellphone.
Through her work at Moore Stephens, Ramjee has dealt with cases involving fraud, corruption, maladministration and poor governance and controls. She says cyber theft is on the rise as technology has become more advanced and commonplace.
The 2016 CIGI-Ipsis Global Survey of Internet Security & Trust, carried out by the Centre for International Governance Innovation, recently revealed that eight in ten people surveyed from 24 countries are concerned that their information can be bought and sold.
Over 50% of South Africans surveyed said they were aware that companies providing free online services often sell personal data to governments and other companies.
More than half of the South Africans surveyed said they were more concerned about their online privacy now compared to a year ago.
Ramjee has also cautioned cellphone users to be careful when using apps such as Whatsapp.
“WhatsApp should never be considered a secure means of communication and can, for all intents and purposes, only be seen as ‘open communication’.”
“For people requiring secure person-to-person messaging, it would be more appropriate to use an App such as Telegram where messages are point-to-point encrypted and permanently erased from the memory store on the cellphone once read.”