There is no question that technology makes life more convenient. With smartphones, individuals have access to an unlimited amount of information on the go. From checking email to checking bank balances, the smartphone has become almost a necessity for a large portion of the population. However, aside from the added information, there is also added risk. Here are seven different ways users can keep their smartphones secure and avoid unnecessarily compromising their privacy and personal information.
Using Passwords on the Phone and Within Apps
Passwords provide the first level of protection on a smartphone. Aside from requiring a password to access the phone, it is also possible to set up passwords for certain apps to provide an added layer of security. This makes it more difficult for someone picking up a smartphone to access all of the secure information it contains.
- Safer Smartphones: A Guide to Keeping Your Device Secure (PDF): This document outlines nine different steps that users can take to protect themselves from the security risks that are often created when using a smartphone.
The risk of malware is increasing as hackers continue to gain access to mobile devices. Everything from a suspicious email to downloading an app could be an opportunity for malware to be installed on a device. Security software can provide a wall between the malware and the smartphone.
- Smartphone Users Should Be Aware of Malware Targeting Mobile Devices: The Internet Crime Complaint Center created a public service announcement detailing some of the current malware affecting smartphones.
- Cell Phone Security: Encryption: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains how encryption software for smartphones works and how to select an encryption option if the phone comes with one.
- Cyber Security and Threats: The Need for Antivirus Applications for Smartphones: This article breaks down the ways that security can be compromised for each type of smartphone operating system and offers statistical data about certain types of smartphone security breaches.
Avoiding Public Wi-Fi
While public Wi-Fi is convenient, it poses a risk to smartphone users. It is possible for others to use a Wi-Fi network to gain access to the information contained on someone else’s smartphone. It is important to look for secure Wi-Fi connections or use the connection provided by the smartphone’s coverage provider instead.
- How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Network This article from Lifehacker explains why using a public wifi network such as those from hotels and coffeeshops will put your data at risk and the steps you need to keep your safe while on public network.
- Guidelines for Managing the Security of Mobile Devices (PDF): The National Institute of Standards and Technology details how to securely use a mobile device in the workplace.
- Ten Steps to Smartphone Security (PDF) Read these ten tips for keeping personal information safe when using your smartphone.
Bluetooth is another great example of an added convenience that can lead to increased security risk. Today’s cybercriminals use methods like bluejacking and bluebugging to create a security threat on a smartphone. There are ways to protect the phone from Bluetooth access and avoid the invasion of privacy.
- Bluetooth and its Inherent Risk Issues (PDF): The bluetooth technology may be convenient for most of us to use but do you know that it may potentially leave you susceptible to security threats? Read on to know more.
- Cyber Threats to Mobile Phones (PDF): The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team provides steps to protect a smartphone and details some of the risks and consequences that users might face if their phone is hacked into.
- Symantec Consumer Guide to Wireless Device Security (PDF): In addition to other helpful tips, this document focuses on some of the risks of using Bluetooth, including bluejacking and bluebugging.
How many apps are downloaded on the average smartphone? Unfortunately, not all apps are harmless. In reality, some of the apps that may seem unimposing on the outside are actually gaining access to all sorts of personal information from the smartphone. This could include a person’s location or even information about other individuals connected to the smartphone user.
- Mobile Apps Put Your Security at Risk: The National Security Institute explains how different apps often come with privacy issues that many smartphone users are unaware of.
- Defending Users Against Smartphone Apps: Techniques and Future Directions (PDF): This document explains some of the risks that come with downloading apps and explains how the process of granting permissions works.
- How to Protect Yourself From Wireless Threats: Consumer Reports explains some of the malware that can affect smartphones and explains how privacy can be invaded by apps.
- Smartphone Privacy and Security: This site offers a wealth of information about smartphone security, including a clear explanation of how apps gain access to personal information.
Back Up Data
Most people understand the importance of backing up data on the computer. Because smartphones can perform many of the same tasks, they also need to be backed up on a regular basis to avoid the loss of information. Backing up data also comes in handy should a smartphone need to be remotely “wiped clean” to remove personal information from its contents if it is lost or stolen.
- Backing Up Data: Emory Libraries and Information Technology offers information about why data should be backed up and how to secure the backup information.
- Disposal of Your Mobile Device: According to the Federal Trade Commission, it is important to dispose of a smartphone properly in order to avoid security risks even after the phone is no longer in use.
- Smartphone Security Checker: The FCC offers a free security checker for users to examine their specific smartphones for potential risks.
- Smartphone Security a Must for Users: After an explanation of security threats, this site offers ten tips for keeping a smartphone safe, including backing up and securing data.
Remote Lock/Delete Apps
If a smartphone falls into the hands of the wrong person, the effects can be devastating. There are different ways to remotely lock a smartphone so that it cannot be used by anyone else. It is also possible to remove information from a smartphone that is no longer in the possession of the owner. These apps are a great way to add a safety net to the phone’s security should it be lost or stolen.
- How to Deter Smartphone Thefts and Protect Your Data: The Wireless Association explains what smartphone users can do before the phone is stolen to avoid data loss and the theft of personal information.
- Security for Mobile Devices: This resource for students details how to take the security of a smartphone (both physically and electronically) seriously.