5 Security Tips for Your Smartphone

June 14, 2011

Besides of my take on these basic five-points tips, there is a growing plethora of advice on securing smartphones. And there is a reason why: we are all overly connected to the wireless world, and Business Intelligence makes it’s way into our mobile devices. Our phones, tables and other mobile devices all have a chock full of private and often Personally Identifiable Information that can be misused by identity thieves and crooks and via crimes of opportunity when you gadgets gets stolen or misplaced.

Sometimes we take our mobile data security for granted, forgetting that our devices hold sensitive, personal information such as:

  • Wi-Fi network info, with passwords
  • Usernames or Passwords to websites such as Facebook, iTunes, Webmail, etc.
  • Personal information utilized and stored in 3rd-party apps – that also gives away information about your personality, interests and spending habits
  • Private data stored in calendars and contacts. It can tell the crooks exactly where you are planning to be in the future, and names and addresses of your friends.
  • Pictures, videos, notes, voice memos. It is an electronic version of your bedroom; you don’t want strangers looting through your drawers.
  • Business Intelligence (BI) data.

A large number of businesses and organizations are rapidly undertaking mobile BI due to an increasing number of market demands. They are driven by the need for delivery of real-time data access for decision making on-the-go, more efficient business processes, enhancement of employee productivity, need for a faster and better decision making and improved customer service.

Without taking the necessary precautions to secure our phones and the data that is contained within the phones, and also the data on the sources our phones are able to connect to, damage may be done. In the best case scenario a person who finds your phone gets into your contact book, finds a record for “Mom” or “Home”, and leaves a nice message about them finding your phone, and you have a chance of getting it back without any major damage done to you private life or your reputation.  In the worse case scenario you can end up with large phone bill for calls placed to Lithuania, your Facebook account hacked and your identity stolen altogether.

According to a survey conducted by F-Secure, 75% of respondents who had lost a phone said they were more worried about losing the data on their cell phone than the phone itself.

OK, enough of tales from the crypt. There are, there is a number of things you can do to protect your smart device – and yourself – from unwanted intrusion. Here are five steps to protect yourself and your information.

Step 1. Set Up a Password Lock:

  • Blackberry:  Options / Security Options / General Settings
  • iPhone:  Settings / General / Passcode Lock
  • Android:  Menu / Settings /Location & Security
  • HTC Mobile: Home / Settings / Security > Phone lock.

If you are not sure how to do it, refer to your phone’s user manual.

For an extra layer of protection on this step, you can set up automatic wipe-out feature when someone enters the wrong password repeatedly. Pick a reasonable number – 4 or 5 tries.

Step 2. Enable Remote Data Wipe.

There is an option available that allows you to remove/erase data on your smartphone: comes handy if you lose your phone, or suspect it being stolen.

  • iPhone: sign up for Find My iPhone feature here.
    Find My iPhone is free for anyone with an iPhone 4, iPad, or 4th generation iPod touch. Just sign in with your Apple ID on your qualifying device and turn on Find My iPhone to allow you to locate it.  Find My iPhone is also included with a MobileMe subscription.?? If you lose your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch while on the go, simply install the Find My iPhone app on another iOS device, launch it, and sign in with your Apple ID. You’ll see your device’s location on a map and you can choose to have it display a message or play a sound, remotely lock the device, or wipe it to permanently delete all of your data if you think that it won’t be returned. For detailed steps, go to Apple’s Apple’s Find My iPhone instruction page.
  • BlackBerry,Windows Mobile, Android: consider Lookout Mobile Security. Lookout is a smartphone security company that provides  protection from viruses, malware and spyware, the ability to backup and restore your data, and tools to help locate lost or stolen phones.
  • in addition, BlackBerry, Nokia, Windows Mobile: McAfee WaveSecure locks your phone, rendering it unusable in the event someone tries to replace your SIM card. You can also log on to the WaveSecure site to locate your lost phone on a map, lock it, and remove contacts, text messages, and media.
  • HTC: enabled with Data Wipe for Exchange

Step 3. Update and Upgrade.

It is difficult to keep up with  smartphones. New OS and app  updates can take up a lot of your time. However, in addition to bringing you a bigger-better-faster apps, updates and upgrades often mean important security patches, giving you and extra layer of protection.

Step 4. Be Vigilant.

You are responsible for your own privacy. One of the biggest traps of the privacy issues is not reading the fine print on the grounds of them being “all the same, blah-blah-blah”. Before you download or execute an installation of a third-party apps, read the fine print, especially their Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Some of the actually spell out the fact that they will collect, use, and share your information. So be smart and decline use of that app, if your privacy matters.

Step 5. Go Extra Secure.

With the increasing presence of open-source smartphone platforms such as Android and third-party app that can be downloaded on mobile devices phones, the threat of malware
and rootkits (software that enables continued privileged access to a computer or mobile device such as smartphone, undetected by user)  targeted for smartphones has greatly increased in the recent times. In addition to only installing trusted apps from reputable sources that are more likely to be secure, go for a smartphone with a firewall, or install a  firewall and a malware detector.


In conclusion: purchase your phone and calling plan from an authorized dealer, and ask them to recommend a security protocol for you.

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