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Turn off, turn on: Simple step can thwart top phone hackers

Posted at 2:59 AM, Jul 28, 2021

At a time of widespread digital insecurity, it turns out that the oldest and simplest computer fix there is — turning a device off then back on again — can thwart hackers from stealing information from smartphones.

The National Security Agency recommends turning smartphones off and on once a week as a way to stop hacking.

While rebooting a cellphone won't completely stop the threat from cybercriminals and hackers, it will make them work harder to maintain access to accounts and steal data.

“This is all about imposing cost on these malicious actors,” Neal Ziring, the technical director of the National Security Agency’s cybersecurity directorate, told the Associated Press.

Almost always in arm’s reach, rarely turned off and holding huge stores of personal and sensitive data, cellphones have become top targets for hackers looking to steal text messages, contacts and photos, as well as track users’ locations and even secretly turn on their video and microphones.

Among the other best practices the NSA recommends are keeping phone software and apps updated, turning off cellular, WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities when not in use, not opening suspicious links or email attachments and avoiding public networks.