A young woman pictured in a modern office holds her cellphone in her right hand. She is looking at the phone in a concerned way. Before her is a laptop placed on a desk.
Smartphone cyberattacks increased 50% in 2023, according to Kaspersky. Following the five tips highlighted below can reduce your chances of being a target of cybercriminals. — Getty Images/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

Smartphone cyberattacks are on the rise and increased by 50% in 2023. If you regularly use your mobile phone to run your business, here are five safety concerns to keep in mind, as well as ways to protect yourself.

Mobile malware attacks

Mobile malware is malicious software that’s designed to attack smartphones and steal personal data. What's tricky about malware is that it takes many different forms. For example, ransomware is a type of malware that locks a user out of their mobile account in exchange for a ransom payment.

Bank trojans are disguised as legitimate apps and are used to steal login information and passwords for financial accounts. Malware distribution methods are constantly changing as cybercriminals become more sophisticated.

The best way to protect yourself from mobile malware is to install anti-virus software on your phone. Run the software regularly to ensure your device is protected. And never open apps or download email attachments unless you know you can trust the individual who sent it to you.

[Read more: Mobile Security: How to Keep Employee Cell Phones Safe]

Weak or reused passwords

One of the biggest mistakes many people make is using the same password for every account. Most people prefer passwords that are memorable, and recycling the same one is easier to remember and use.

The problem, though, is that if your account information is involved in a data leak, hackers have access to multiple accounts. A Verizon study showed that compromised passwords were to blame for 80% of hacking incidents.

To protect your online accounts, create a unique password for each one you have. Furthermore, using a password manager ensures you don't have to remember every new password you come up with. It's also recommended that you use two-factor authentication for an added layer of security.

Regularly updating your phone is key to protecting yourself against malware, spyware, and other cyberattacks.

Phishing

Have you ever received a text message saying that your UPS order can't be delivered, but you know you haven't ordered anything recently? This is a phishing attempt, and the message will usually prompt you to click on a link which then routes you to a phishing website.

Phishing also takes place on various social media apps, where hackers will pose as legitimate businesses like PayPal or Amazon to try to steal your information.

You can protect yourself from phishing attempts by recognizing the signs of a scam. For example, the sender's contact information often looks suspicious and hackers usually send shortened URLs to hide malicious links.

If you receive a suspicious message, don’t respond, and don't click on links the user sent you. You can report any phishing attempts to your mobile carrier.

Free Wi-Fi

If you spend time working at a local coffee shop or restaurant, you may regularly use public Wi-Fi hotspots. However, free Wi-Fi isn't secure because anyone can access that network.

Hackers often set up fake free Wi-Fi hotspots to encourage people to use their networks. Once you connect to the free network, criminals easily gain access to your device and steal your personal data.

The best way to protect yourself is to avoid using free Wi-Fi hotspots. But if this isn't always possible, using a virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure connection and encrypts your private data.

[Read more:​​ 5 VPN Software Options to Boost Your Business's Digital Security]

Outdated devices

Regularly updating your phone is key to protecting yourself against malware, spyware, and other cyberattacks. Operating system updates often include important security updates and patches against emerging threats.

Set your phone to update automatically, and stay on top of app updates. If your phone is too old to receive security updates, replace it with a new one. Apple and Google products are usually considered obsolete after seven years.

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