Friday, 03 December 2021 10:47

Samsung explains how it protects Samsung smartphones from cyberattacks

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With smartphone the centre of how we work, live and play, and for many, according to Samsung, even the only thing that we bring out of the home, replacing our laptops, wallets and even house keys, our phones and their security has never been more important or relevant.

Samsung has shared an article, detailing how it protects people using Samsung smartphones from cyberattacks, which discusses the risks, and the concrete actions the company is taking.

We're reminded that "while we are generally more mindful today of the dangers posed by hackers to our laptops and computers, we also need to recognise that smartphones are prone to cyberattacks as well. Hackers go where the crowds are and right now, that’s mobile devices. That’s why it’s never been more important to stay safe, and why we’re constantly innovating to protect you and your data against emerging threats."

As Samsung states, the billions of smartphones around the world "are filled with sensitive personal and business data, providing infinite opportunities for hackers to steal and sell private information. In fact, cybersecurity firm IronNet reported that cyberattacks have increased 168% between May 2020 and May 2021, with attacks on smartphones becoming one of the biggest cybersecurity threats in the Asia Pacific region."

Samsung says it is "committed to keeping users safe and secure, with Samsung Knox providing true end-to-end protection throughout the entire lifecycle of your device."

In this article, Samsung explores five potential cyberattack scenarios that could happen when the safety of your device is compromised – and explain how Samsung Knox protects you from these threats, in line with our ethos of placing security at the heart of every decision we make, but first, let's start with this video:

Here are the five cyberattack scenarios, with Samsung's text lightly edited:

1) Cyberattack Scenario 1: Unauthorised backdoor access

Outside of Samsung, developers routinely create software ‘backdoors’ for apps and even mobile OSes so that they can gain easy access for troubleshooting purposes. However, hackers are able to discover these backdoors, which usually bypass any or all cybersecurity measures on the device in question.

To prevent unauthorised backdoor access, do not download unofficial or unauthorised apps. Downloading software other than what the manufacturer originally installed to gain full access to the device’s operating system could also introduce malware or spyware that leads to unauthorised backdoor access.

How Samsung protects you against this threat:

Samsung notes that it designs, creates, and validates every computer chip, every piece of wiring, and every hardware component before using them to manufacture its smart devices in highly secure factories around the world. This chip-up approach gives Samsung control over design, manufacturing and assembly, ensuring a secure supply chain that prevents unauthorised backdoor access in its devices – resulting in an end product that Samsung says "users can trust completely."

2) Cyberattack Scenario 2: Compromised, weak, or re-used passwords

As users continue to create new accounts for digital services, ranging from telehealth services to new ride-hailing and e-commerce platforms, they provide more avenues for hackers to exploit.

As an August 2021 survey from IBM found, 86% of consumers in Asia Pacific admit that they re-use the same credentials across multiple online accounts. This is a poor data privacy habit – just one attack could leave a user’s entire internet footprint vulnerable to hackers.

How Samsung protects you against this threat:

Samsung’s devices (depending on the model) are equipped with "innovative biometric authentication technology, such as Ultrasonic Fingerprint, so that access to your data can be protected even if your device is lost or stolen." Known as Samsung Pass, this biometric authentication tool also lets users easily access log-in credentials without the need to remember countless usernames and passwords! To take data protection to the next level, we have also equipped our devices with Knox Vault, a secure processor that operates independently from the main CPU. Knox Vault securely isolates your biometrics data from the rest of your phone, so no one can get their hands on your data.

3) Cyberattack Scenario 3: Free Wi-Fi may not be so free after all

Free Wi-Fi hotspots are a boon for everyone who needs access to the Internet on their mobile devices for work or play. However, public Wi-Fi services provide an opportunity for hackers to steal data, as the data that you send across the web – such as credit card information for online purchases – might first pass through the hands of a hacker via a public Wi-Fi network.

How Samsung protects you against this threat:

For everyday browsing, Secure Wi-Fi encrypts outgoing internet traffic and disables tracking apps and websites. It allows you to browse the internet safely on public wireless connections without fear of security breaches.

 

4) Cyberattack Scenario 4: Phishing attacks compromising sensitive data

Phishing is a type of attack in which cyber criminals trick victims into handing over sensitive information or installing malware, disguised as links, attachments, or even legitimate apps, on their devices.

Once hackers have access to your sensitive information, they could use it to demand a ransom from you, steal your personal information, carry out other vices, or make purchases with your credit card information, for instance.

How Samsung protects you against this threat:

Device Protection in Samsung Device Care continuously scans your device for malware or suspicious activity, and alerts you when you mistakenly install malicious apps through detection via the McAfee protection.

]Additionally, the Samsung Secure Folder keeps data secure, and isolates problematic apps within the folder to keep apps away from users’ personal information.

Meanwhile, when you’re paying for purchases with Samsung Pay on your mobile device, your card information is encrypted and completely isolated to protect it at all times.

5) Cyberattack Scenario 5: Zero-day vulnerability

As hackers and cyber attackers are constantly trying to hack into devices, they are always on the lookout for zero-day vulnerabilities. A zero-day vulnerability is a vulnerability in a system or device that has been discovered but is not yet patched. This can be particularly dangerous as cybercriminals target the flaws in a system before developers or the public are aware it even exists.

How Samsung protects you against this threat:

Samsung Knox offers real time protection, always actively protecting your devices against data attacks or malware. This means that unauthorised attempts to access or modify your phone’s core are blocked in real time.

When users reboot their Samsung smartphone, Secure Boot is activated to detect any unauthorised software and block attempts to compromise the device through multi-layered, defence-grade security. If the smartphone is booted in an unapproved state, Samsung Knox will automatically lock up apps containing sensitive data such as Samsung Pay, Samsung Pass, Secure Folder or Samsung Health.

Looking ahead to a more secure future

The smartphone has become a key part of our digital lives, whether from home, at the classroom, or even in the office. With new cyber threat vectors continuously putting us at risk, we need to stay vigilant and play an active role in keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe in this digital world.

Security does not just stop at smartphones for Samsung, as Knox protection also extends to the smart appliances in Samsung’s portfolio for an additional layer of protection. This means that your Samsung smart appliances are protected and secured, whether you are mirroring the video you are watching on your Galaxy device with the SmartView app to the screen on your Family Hub™, or using the AI function on your AI EcoBubble washing machine to calibrate optimal wash settings.

Samsung reassures its users that they have "a digital partner committed to world-class security and privacy standards – keeping you safe while you work, study, and play."


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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