Image credits: The Cyber Security Campaign HK Police Force Official Website; Photo Gallery

Image credits: The Cyber Security Campaign HK Police Force Official Website; Photo Gallery

Hong Kong Police launch campaign to boost smartphone security awareness

In a recent report, it was announced that the Hong Kong Police Force has launched another cyber-security campaign.

This is the second round of cybersecurity campaigning that the police force has implemented. This time, the purpose of the campaign is to enhance data protection for smartphones and other mobile devices.

Entitled ‘The Cyber Security Campaign 2.0’, the movement started on 6 August 2018.  It follows the success of a similar initiative for desktop computer users last year.

The campaign is particularly relevant as recently Hong Kong’s Department of Health became a victim of a cyberattack after three of its computers were hit by ransomware which left data inaccessible, prompting police to open a criminal investigation.

The latest campaign seeks to remind the public that not only desktop computers but also smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile gadgets can be infected by viruses or hacked by others with malicious intent, which can result in huge monetary losses for the victims.

Police cited the case of a stock market trader whose smartphone was hacked in September 2016 by someone who then used around HK$9 million in his account to buy two “penny stocks”, causing him to lose about HK$2 million before he found out what happened and sold the shares.

An investigation revealed that the victim had installed an app from an unknown source, which the hacker used to get into his account.

Senior Superintendent Frank Law Yuet-wing, from the police force’s Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau, said that while the first thing most people do after buying a mobile phone is to put a screen protector on the device, they often neglect the fact their personal information stored in the phone is much more important and needs protection as well.

To enhance security awareness and encourage people to equip their smart gadgets with better protection, police are collaborating with multiple anti-virus software companies which are offering their apps for free download at the campaign’s website.

During the year-long Cyber Security Campaign 2017, which started in the middle of last year, three participating companies provided virus scanning and cleaning tools for free download.

The anti-virus apps, which have been downloaded 230,000 times, have helped remove nearly 236,000 malicious programs, almost double the number recorded in the previous year, according to police data.

For data protection, police advise owners of smartphones and other mobile devices to update their operating system and apps to the latest versions periodically, install anti-malware apps, and avoid clicking on suspicious hyperlinks and installing apps from untrusted sources.

A police study found that most people whose devices fell prey to viruses or hacking had downloaded documents from unknown sources, opened suspicious links or installed third-party apps.

The campaign website features information on ‘Intelligent device security defense’. The tips for effective smartphone protection include various tips; these are listed below.

·         Do not click on suspicious information hyperlinks;

·         Never install an application of unknown origin;

·         Never jailbreak/wipe the smart device;

·         Never open suspicious emails;

·         Never browse untrustworthy websites;

·         An anti-virus software program should be used;

·         The operating system, application, and anti-virus software programs should be updated regularly;

·         If in doubt, should check with information technology professionals.

Owners of mobile devices should watch out for symptoms of virus infection such as unusually fast power consumption, significantly worsened performance and unknown apps that are installed without their knowledge.

To further the campaign to boost awareness of the importance of smartphone security, The Hong Kong Police Force has collaborated with several international antivirus companies including Kaspersky to create various scanning and cleaning tools.

The campaign website features links to download a Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus for Android smartphones and Kaspersky Safe Browser for iOS users.

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