Smartphone Security

Your iPhone, BlackBerry or Android smartphone knows a lot about you. Learn how to secure your phone to protect it and your information.
April 2012
by Robin Wark

Your smartphone is a major part of your life. Whether it is an iPhone, BlackBerry or uses an Android platform, your phone has valuable photos, confidential information, all of your contacts and a whole lot more. In the wrong hands, this information could be used for fraud, identity theft, phishing or other devious schemes.

According to a recent comScore report, 97.9 million Americans were smartphone users from October to December of 2011. That is up from 91.4 million from the previous three months. With more people utilizing iPhones, BlackBerrys, Galaxy, Razr, T-Mobile Slide, Droid and other smartphones, thieves and cybercriminals are stepping up their efforts. According to a CBS News report cell phone theft in New York City jumped from eight percent of robberies 10 years ago to more than 40 per cent this year. A recent study showed that mobile malware rose 155 per cent in 2011.

You need to take precautions to protect your smartphone, your information and yourself. Here are some important tips to remember:

  • Use password protection. This is a simple way to protect your info if your phone is swiped. Just like with your computer – pick a good password! Don't just use the default one. Also, try to choose passwords that would not easily be guessed.
  • Follow regular PC safe surfing practices. Just like with your computer, you should be cautious about where you surf to on your smartphone and be wary about clicking on suspicious links. As well, make sure a site shows "https" before entering any billing or personal information. This allows for a secure ecommerce transaction.
  • Read the fine print. When you install an app, take time to read about which information it can access. If you are not comfortable with sharing that info, don't install it.
  • Install security software. You can get security solutions designed especially to stop viruses and other malware on smartphones.
  • Do not jail break your phone Jail breaking is the process of removing the limitations imposed by your smartphone's operating system. For example, jail breaking an iPhone means a user can access apps and themes not available through Apple's official store. However, this can be a major security risk.
  • Limit your public Wi-Fi activities. Public Wi-Fi is a great convenience. However, it also supplies a spot where hackers can try to access your phone. When purchasing things online or accessing email, do not use public Wi-Fi. A 3G network can be more secure in these situations.
  • Enter in IDs and passwords. Although it can take more time, it is safer if your log-in credentials and passwords for various services are not saved on your smartphone.
  • Look into "erase" and "remote wipe" options. There are options and services which erase the contents of your phone if it lost, stolen or there have been a series of unsuccessful log-in attempts.
  • Have a phone finder app. This can come in very handy if you misplace your phone.
  • Keep Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off until needed. These services can provide hackers a way into your smartphone.

With a little time and attention to detail, you can greatly improve your smartphone's security. This extra effort could protect you from something serious happening to you and your phone.

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