I was recently at an event where a group of technical people each carried two phones where I overheard a college student working the event ask them, “Why are each of you carrying two phones?” One of the gentlemen replied, “one is specifically for work and the other specifically for personal use.” Interested, he asked, “You have to use a separate phone for work? Why?” The tech professional replied, “Because of the security clearance we have with some of our clients, we have special settings on these phones that provide extra protection from data being compromised. Also, we can’t add any extra apps to these unless approved. “
To be honest, here’s what most of us don’t think about in regard to our phones…
- Your smartphone is a computer, and – like a computer – can be hacked, but most of us don’t even think to take the extra measures to install anti-virus or firewall protection on our cell phones like we do to protect the data our laptops.
- There are applications and even video tutorials easily accessible on the internet that allows someone hack your phone and spy on your conversations (phone, text and social apps). Some of these are specifically marketed to parents to spy on their kids. But the scary question is “who else is spying on your kids with this same software?’
- App developers have no standard code of ethics they are required to follow like doctors, lawyers and CPA’s requiring them to stay current with security measures. It’s up to Apple and Google App Store regulations to offer general guidance on how to do business within their stores; but how well are they actually monitored for user data safety? Just recently, Facebook got into trouble for over 50 million Facebook profiles breached through a third-party app provider. Who else is doing this same thing?
- Open emails or text messages on your phone? A phishing message is one of the leading ways hackers get access to and steal personal information and take control of your device. If you’re opening emails on your phone without antivirus or malware protection, you’re inviting trouble to mess with your life.
Quick Tips To Help You Secure Your Mobile Phone
The following tips are general no matter which operating system you prefer (Apple or Android).
- Protect your device with a Malware App. Especially if you have an Android phone, protection is highly recommended. (Check out these apps: Security Master, Kapersky Mobile Antivirus AppLock & Web Security, or Lookout).
- Keep your apps and device software up-to-date – these often fix vulnerabilities found somewhere in the software.
- When not using your phone, LOCK IT. This can help keep data secure even if the device is stolen.
- Choose Wi-Fi networks carefully. Use only hotspots established by a cafe, etc. you are visiting and don’t access your bank while on such networks. Random networks can be set-up to purposely steal your information.
- Be cautious of unsolicited text messages. Just like email phishing, text messages can contain links that have malware included. Don’t open them, just delete them. (If you have a security app, you can also block such advances.)
- Choose Apps carefully. Some free apps are designed to hide their malicious activity behind a fun game or social engagement. Delete apps you don’t use and only use ones developed by a company with a good reputation for being well developed and managed.
Julia Eudy is a Technology Consultant with specialties in Online Marketing, Web Design, and Cyber Security. She teaches Content Management Systems (WordPress) and Social Media Marketing at St. Charles Community College in Cottleville, MO, in addition to managing a small Online Marketing firm (Golden Services Group) that focuses on online marketing solutions for small-medium sized businesses. Additionally, she is working with a group of professionals to create a training program designed to inspire K-12 students to pursue careers in technology and cybersecurity.