Want to Thwart Bad Guys From Hacking Your Phone? Turn it Off + Back On
Turns out the oldest trick in the book -- rebooting a computer that's acting wonky -- is also great advice when it comes to your cellphone. Experts say turning your phone off and then back on again goes a long way toward keeping hackers at bay.
Your Phone Holds All Sorts of Personal Data
Your phone not only holds pictures, contact details, and text messages but also plenty of personal and sensitive data especially if you use it to access financial data or home automation systems. That's why phones have become a top target for hackers.
“I always think of phones as like our digital soul,” former National Security Agency (NSA) researcher Patrick Wardle tells the Associated Press.
The NSA released a "Best practices" guide for mobile devices and recommends a weekly reboot as a way to stop hackers.
Why Does Rebooting Thwart Hackers?
Hackers are evolving. Although clicking on questionable links can still lead bad guys to your data, hackers are moving on to something known as 'zero-click exploits' which takes away the need to click on secretly infected attachments.
Bill Marczak, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, an internet civil rights watchdog at the University of Toronto, explains that it's become very difficult to attack the root file systems used by Google (the maker of Android's operating system) and Apple.
Hackers are now opting for 'in-memory payloads' which are said to be harder to detect and trace back to whoever sent them. The catch is, these types of hacks can't survive a reboot.
Wardle adds that hackers have come to the conclusion that these "in-memory payloads" don't need to persist because so many people don't bother to reboot their phones.
We're essentially playing right into their hands.
Best practice, according to the NSA: Reboot your phone about once every week.