Keeping Your Smartphone Data Secure
Most business people rely heavily on their smartphones and tablets to help manage their personal and business lives. Which means that we use these devices to transact banking business, make travel plans, send and receive emails, access the Internet and social media sites and even transfer CAD drawings and other customer information. So anyone who gets their hands on the phone, itself, or hacks their way in has access to data that can cause us a world of hurt, as anyone who’s had a brush with identity theft or industrial espionage will tell you.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, mobile cyber attacks increased 367% in 2011 and continue to escalate. With that in mind, it behooves us all to do what we can to protect our devices. A good first step is to visit the FCC’s official Web site to take advantage of their Smartphone Security Checker. This online tool provides a step-by-step program to improve your smartphone’s security, customized to your specific mobile operating system (Apple, Android, Blackberry or Windows).
Many of the FCC suggestions appear to be common sense yet it’s surprising how many of us don’t employ even these basic safeguards. How many of the following mobile security practices do you follow?
- Locking your phone with a password. If someone steals your phone they may still be able to hack into it, but if you use a password it may be more trouble than it’s worth. If your phone has the option, use a password longer that 4 digits and mix in numbers, letters and symbols.
- Logging out. When you complete an online transaction always log out of the site, especially when moving on to another site.
- Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use. Hackers can use these open portals to gain access. Also be wary of public Wi-Fi networks unless they are encrypted. If unencrypted, anyone can monitor your activities. There are also some apps that help protect you when using unfamiliar Wi-Fi connections, so check the app store for your device and download one.
- Use specific retailer apps for online shopping. Instead of using your Internet browser, download the free shopping apps from your favorite retailers. These are more secure and less likely to be hacked than the corresponding Web site.
- Log in every time. Never use the “remember me” function on any site that involves transactions or that holds your personal information. Log in and out each time you use the app or visit the site.
- Don’t bypass the device’s built-in security. Some people do this to access APPs not available through traditional channels. Doing so can enable malware to find its way into your system and access your data.
- Keep the operating system updated. System updates often have security fixes that address new potential problems so make sure you take advantage of any updates. And activate the phones “find it” function, or add an app for this purpose, so that you can locate a lost or stolen phone.
Following these and the FCC procedures may not protect your mobile devices against any and all threats, but applying them faithfully can definitely improve your odds.