comscore Surveillance tools can track you: How to stay safe using a few simple steps

Worried that someone is spying on you using your smartphone? Follow these simple steps to stay safe

In order to stay safe, it is advised to be careful with sensitive data and also presume that the device is already compromised.

Hacked smartphone

Surveillance tools can be used to track you. Image source: Flickr

Smartphones may be a boon to us humans but it’s also a gateway of information and sensitive data that can be misused if it falls into the wrong hands. With spyware like Pegasus, governments can get easy access to private data. In order to stay safe from such spyware and potential malware, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), a US govt agency that deals with cybersecurity has released a bulletin to help users be more aware and safe from surveillance tools.  Also Read - Apple starts sending alerts to users impacted by Pegasus spyware

NCSC has highlighted that companies and individuals have been selling commercial surveillance tools to governments and other entities that have used them for malicious purposes. Over here, there’s no mention of Pegasus spyware, but the bulletin seems to be indirectly hinting towards the use of the Pegasus software.  Also Read - These 23 Android apps are found with malicious PhoneSpy spyware, delete them immediately

It further explains that journalists, dissidents, and other persons around the world have been targeted and tracked using these tools. These tools have the capacity to infect mobile and internet-connected devices with malware over both WiFi and cellular data connections. The device owners may not even know that they are being tracked. Additionally, the malicious actor can use suspicious links to gain access to a device.  Also Read - 5 tips to protect your phone from dangerous spyware like Pegasus

What can a surveillance tool do? 

-These tools can record audio, including phone calls.

-Track phone’s location.

-Access and retrieve virtually all content on a phone, including text messages, files, chats, commercial messaging app content, contacts, and browsing history.

What can be done about such surveillance tools?

While it is hard to know if you are being targetted specifically, there are some healthy practices listed by the agency that one can follow to stay as safe from future intrusions: 

-Regularly update device operating systems and mobile applications.

-Be suspicious of content from unfamiliar senders, especially those which contain links or attachments.

-Don’t click on suspicious links or suspicious emails and attachments.

-Check URLs before clicking links, or go to websites directly.

-Regularly restart mobile devices, which may help damage or remove malware implants.

-Encrypt and password-protect your device.

-Maintain physical control of your device when possible.

-Use trusted Virtual Private Networks.

-Disable geolocation options and cover camera on devices.

The agency has claimed that while these pointers will help a user stay safe, there’s no guarantee that they will protect you in the event of a hack. In order to stay safe, it is advised to be careful with sensitive data and also presume that the device is already compromised. 

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  • Published Date: January 10, 2022 2:06 PM IST

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