RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Sen. Angus King has reason to worry about hackers as a secretive Senate Intelligence Committee member. At a briefing by security staff this, he said he got some advice on how to help keep his cellphone secure.
Step One: Turn off the phone.
Step Two: Turn it back on.
That’s it. At a time of widespread digital insecurity, it turns out that the oldest and simplest computer fix — turning a device off and then back on again — caninformation from smartphones.
Regularly rebooting phones won’t stop the army of cyber criminals or spy-for-hire firms that have sowed chaos and doubt about the ability to keep any information safe and private in our digital lives. But it can make even the most sophisticated hackers work harder to maintain from a phone.
“This is all about imposing a cost on these malicious actors,” said Neal Ziring, technical director of theAgency’s cybersecurity directorate.
The NSA issued a “best practices” guide for mobile devicein which it recommends rebooting a phone every week to stop hacking.
King, an independent from Maine, says rebooting his phone is now part of his routine.
“I’d say probably once a week, whenever I think of it,” he said.
Almost always in arm’s reach, rarely turned off, and holding vast stores of personal and sensitive data, cell phones have become top targets for hackers looking to steal, contacts, and photos, as well as track users’ locations and even secretly turn on their video and microphones I always think of phones as like our digital soul,” said Patrick Wardle, a security expert, and former NSA researcher.
The number of people whose phones are hacked yearly is unknowable, but evidence suggests it’s significant. A recent investigation into phone hacking by a global media consortium has caused in France, India, Hungary, and elsewhere after researchers found scores of journalists, human rights activists, and politicians on a leaked list of what were believed to be potential targets of an Israeli hacker-for-hire company.
The advice to periodically reboot a phone reflects, in part, a change in how top hackers gainto mobile devices and the rise of so-called “zero-click” exploits that work without any user interaction instead of trying to get users to open something secretly infected.
“There’s been this evolution away from having aMarczak, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, an internet civil rights watchdog at the University of Toronto.
Typically, once hackers gain access to a device or network, they look for ways to persist byto a computer’s root file system. But that’s become more complex as phone manufacturers such as Apple and Google have strong security to block malware from core , Ziring said.