8 Mobile Security Tips – Is My Smartphone Protected?

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Smartphone Protection

As our whole world become easily accessible on the move, we need to start thinking about the ease of complete access by people other than ourselves.  It only takes a second for you to take your eye off your phone and someone could have stolen it.  Your phone doesn’t have to be stolen for your information to be accessed though, viruses and malware have been increasingly detected on peoples smartphones.

It Can Happen To Anyone

This thought occurred to me the other day when I came across a news article about Celebrity Big Brother. Not an article likely to be linked to business issues, but it got me thinking. Spencer Pratt, a well-known American reality TV star, entered the Big Brother house in the UK on 3rd January 2013 alongside his beautiful wife Heidi Montag.

Prior to entering the house Heidi tweeted that Spencer had lost the new phone she had got him for Christmas. No big drama was made of this. Upon entering the Big Brother house, Spencer Pratt’s twitter account became very active. After a tweet-blackout from 20th December 2012, on the 1st January 2013 came a tweet “testing testing”. This was immediately picked up by his many followers who didn’t believe it was actually Spencer. To this he began tweeting “personal” images of Heidi that were clearly taken on the phone. The constant tweeting has continued since 1st January despite Spencer being in the Big Brother house.

The ease that someone can access Spencer’s twitter account and publish personal images got me wondering. What are we doing to protect the important information that is accessible through our mobile phones?

Our Mobiles Contain Personal & Business Info

My mobile phone contains apps for personal and business bank accounts, email accounts, social media accounts, blog accounts, photos, contact details and I am sure, other personal applications that I can’t think of.

The mobile cloud allows for files to be accessible on the run which is very convenient but can be extremely detrimental to a business if it falls into the wrong hands. Just imagine if someone got hold of a mobile phone belonging to a highly authoritative CEO. What impact would the release of corporate data have on the company?

What about for people running their own website.  You may have login details for your site on your phone, website social media accounts, a contact book full of client details, etc.  You may have access via your laptop, but that is not to say someone won’t change or alter your login details to prevent you from getting back in.  Most phones are synced with their online accounts automatically.

Is Your Smartphone At Risk?

Smartphone

Image by ‘SimonQ錫濛譙’

My phone is password protected but it doesn’t take a genius or an extortionate amount of money to unlock these simple passwords, and with that, the criminal will have access to my whole world. Research conducted recently has found that 70% of mobile phone users do not password protect their phone and only 1% of all stolen mobile phones are recovered.

The way our world is changing means that people expect to have constant contact with clients and customers and a 24/7 means to contact them. Files need to be shared immediately, access to email accounts wherever in the world you are, access to stocks and shares and bank accounts need to be instantaneous. A look back on the browsing history on a person’s mobile phone could provide the perpetrator with some valuable information.

Recently, there has been publicity around the increase in mobile malware. If we thought about this 15 years ago, the idea that someone would be trying to hack our mobile phones was absurd. Why would someone want to access my Nokia Snake top scores? Our lives have changed and therefore the criminal masterminds have changed too. Virus infected Apps are easily downloaded onto mobile phones.

Growing up, we were taught not to open strange emails or download dubious files onto our computer or laptop, but it appears that people are less cautious when it comes to downloading applications onto their mobile phone.

Sophos produced a Security Threat Report where they predict the biggest threat of 2013 will be to the Android operating system. Great, my little Motorola will be under attack. It doesn’t take an army of 10 secret service men to protect a mobile phones data from being stolen, there are some simple and effective measures you can take.

Tips To Protect Your Smartphone

Smartphone Protection

Use a password or pattern lock for your smartphone

  1. Secure your mobile phone with a password or pattern lock and change this regularly.
  2. Log out of applications on your mobile once you are finished using them and do not store your password on the applications.
  3. Modern smartphones come with a GPS system. Many of the operating systems have applications named such as “find my iPhone”. This will help you track down your mobile phone but the application must be turned on prior to the phone getting stolen!
  4. If recovering your phone is unlikely, wiping your phone remotely is an excellent way to prevent your information being accessed. This can be done through application such as “find my iPhone”.
  5. Do your research before downloading applications to your phone. Read the app reviews!
  6. Run virus software on your phone regularly.
  7. When out and about, do not walk around with your fancy, brand new smartphone in your hand or sticking out of your pocket for the world to see.
  8. Take out mobile phone insurance – it won’t protect the data but it will help lessen the blow if your device is stolen.

Have you ever had your phone stolen and if so, what information did they gain access to?  What other tips would you give to people wanting to help secure their phone?

About Vicki Power

Vicki writes on behalf of Pannone, a law firm based in London that offers advice on all aspects of cyber-crime.

  • Andi Leeman

    A very serious post Matt, phone security is something we don’t think about and take for granted. I have often thought about it but not followed through with anything. Unlike cars, phones can easily beforgotten, lost, stolen or simply fall out of pockets. It is a scary thought and you have scared me even more! :-(

    • http://onlineincometeacher.com/ Matt Smith

      Well I don’t think scaring people was the aim of the post, but hopefully it just shows that we need to be more careful with our phones. Like you say, it’s much easier to forget about a phone rather than a car, though if someone stole your car, they haven’t got instant access to your whole personal & business life (unless of course you left your phone in your car!).

      Simple things like making sure your phone is password protected, installing an antivirus app, utilizing apps that help track your phone should it get stolen, etc. all help should the worst happen.

  • The Secret Insider

    I have some great apps, I can turn my phone into a torch and listen to online dance music anywhere at any time but none for phone security! :-) Just goes to show you how my mind works… some great advice here and important tips.

    We can lose a lot of stuff if we lose our phones, they are not phones these days are they? They are mini computers that you can talk to people with. We must think that ore often.

    • http://onlineincometeacher.com/ Matt Smith

      Hi SI,

      You often hear people saying “I don’t know what I’d do without my phone” or “I can’t live without my phone”. It’s surprising them that many people don’t protect these things as they should do.

      Nowadays, people wouldn’t dream of running their laptop or desktop without security software monitoring for viruses or malware. But your phone is probably MORE at risk now from malicious software like this, especially since we are all spending more time using them to go online.

      If we all take time to secure our phones, we will all be better off.

  • Srikanth Sri

    Hi Matt ,
    Your Site is amazing With great content bro :) Daily iam reading a article and Gaining so much information from this site :) Thanks for sharing this information Bro :)

    • http://onlineincometeacher.com/ Matt Smith

      Well I’m glad you like the site Srikanth! Really appreciate your nice comments. Always good to hear from satisfied readers. :)

      Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnBanksBlog John Banks

    Great post Vicki,

    I will certainly be checking my smartphone setting after reading this. Still unsure about the “logging out” tip as most phones work on push notification, so surely this would disable all your social media profiles etc….?

    Thankfully on the insurance side of things, my bank covers my phone. Also, what about the data roaming abroad? I have heard people getting hammered on this in the past?

    Thanks for the tips!
    John

    • http://onlineincometeacher.com/ Matt Smith

      I know what you mean about logging in and out of social media profiles, I don’t tend to do this. Though, I have seen examples of people being able to easily gain access to your social media profiles if you don’t protect them properly.

      As for roaming charges, I have no idea about that. I always tend to leave my phone at home if I go on holiday, as the whole point is to get away from work. It does seem to be extortionately high though!