With the smartphone industry growing larger every day, there is a growing concern for data security on said mobile devices. The power of these devices is always increasing, as is the amount of software installed on them. With the advent of these different types of software, including financial software and personal identification software, the need for more security is a must. Most of these devices come with built-in security, but is this really enough for today’s world?
For most people nowadays, their whole life is on their smartphones. It includes a plethora of personal information and data, such as personal/work documents, notes, pictures, and emails containing sensitive information and full access to Wi-Fi networks that you connect to at work or home calendar appointments. Contacts access to various sites/information through apps, such as social networking apps, bill paying apps, movie apps, shopping apps, and etcetera.
With all this information on our smartphones, it makes it a goldmine for potential thieves. The risk of your phone being lost, stolen, or even being rummaged through by your IT guy is only half of the security problem with them. Smartphones can also leak other kinds of data by sniffing your internet traffic when connected to open Wi-Fi networks. Your passwords to unencrypted websites and services, such as Facebook, Twitter, web-based
e-mail sites, POP3 e-mail services, etcetera could be easily be sniffed by someone else on the network. There is also the issue of viruses, malware, SMS/MMS exploits, and Bluetooth exploits; these exploits can manipulate your phone settings and prevent you from using certain features, send information to or call contacts in your phone, steal and/or destroy personal information on your phone, or render your phone completely unusable.
Though the biggest concerns, for now, should be more focused on protecting your phone from theft or loss or sniffing over Wi-Fi, the issues of malicious software and hacking are becoming more and more prevalent every day. These issues could become more of a concern in the not-so-distant future due to the lack of integrated active security systems, such as firewalls, anti-virus programs, and anti-malware programs, into our phones.
Juniper Networks conducted a study of more than 6,000 smartphone and tablet users in 16 countries about mobile security threats to set a bit of background for the importance of securing your mobile phone. They found the following:
250% increase in the amount of mobile malware over the past year
a Fortune 15 company discovered that 1,250 of its 25,000 devices were infected with malware 44% of respondents to the survey use their devices for both business and personal use 80% admit to using their devices to access their work network without the employer’s knowledge or permission.
Today is the time to worry about Android security.
One out of every twenty apps in the Android marketplace requests permissions that could allow the app to place a call without the user knowing
9 of ten mobile devices have little or no security protection
more than 60% of reported smartphone infections are spyware, and 17% are text message trojans that can rack up fees that are charged to the device owner’s account
As clearly evidenced by Juniper’s findings, there is an inherent need for more mobile phone security. Fortunately, there are several options to help secure your phone that are built-in to the operating system and several third-party programs as well. Even the most basic security measures can help you protect your personal information. To begin, we will start with some of the simpler defense mechanisms.
While this first one may seem pretty obvious and straightforward, do not lose your phone! If you are in a public place, do not sit it down or put it in your pocket or an open bag, where it can be easily grabbed. This is actually the most common way that phones get lost or stolen. You should also set your phone to lock or timeout after a certain period of time (recommend thirty seconds or less), especially if you happen to leave your phone out on your desk at work or in other public areas.
All major smartphones come with this functionality built-in. You will want to make sure that you choose something that is not easy for anyone to guess but easy for you to remember. It should not be something as simple as your address, name, phone number, etcetera. Here is how to easily set timeout settings and passwords on your phone:
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