10 Smartphone Security Tips (updated)

We are all ever more dependent on  our Smartphones (iPhone .Blackberry,Android) for everyday life and whilst the productivity benefits we get from new technology are big there is an army of people and organisations out there harvesting the Internet for our personal and business details .

Online Security is a subject that I take very seriously but even I was shocked reading about a technology journalist had all his online information hacked with disastrous consequences .You can read his account of it  here.

From stealing your email passwords to deleting all the pictures on your iphone there are real dangers. The smartphone is quickly eclipsing the PC for many common small business tasks that need to be accomplished on the road, such as email, social networking, Web browsing, editing or creating documents.

But smartphones’ growing popularity also increases their vulnerability; not only because smartphones are small and easily to lose, but they also present a big target for same kinds of security threats that plague PCs — viruses and other malware.

A recent smartphone security study by the Ponemon institute — commissioned by security software vendor AVG — found that 84 percent of respondents use the same smartphone for both business and personal use. This gives you a sense of the amount and kind of data a typical smartphone can contain, and why it needs to be protected.

So here’s 10 ways to improve your Android, BlackBerry, iPhone or Windows Phone 7 (8) smartphone security.

1. Screen Lock Your Phone

If you leave your smartphone unattended for a while — or worse, if it’s lost or stolen (more on that later) — you don’t want to make it easy for a passerby to rifle through its contents. Setting your smartphone to require a PIN code or password for access after an inactive period is a relatively easy way to thwart this kind of opportunistic unauthorized access.

2. Enable Remote Locate, Lock and Wipe

Can’t find your phone? You may have simply misplaced it somewhere around the office, or inadvertently left it at your last meeting. Then again, maybe someone nicked it when you weren’t looking. In this situation, software — or a service — with the capability to remotely locate, lock, and wipe your phone might help you retrieve it.

3. Backup or Sync Your Data Frequently

We hope you never find yourself missing a smartphone or having to issue a remote data self-destruct, but if you do, you’ll want to be sure your phone’s data exists somewhere else. The same is true in the event your device becomes incapacitated due to physical damage or some other malfunction. Whatever the case, having a backup of your data is critical.

4. Apply Operating System Updates

From time-to-time, your smartphone OS vendor, hardware manufacturer or mobile carrier will make operating system updates available for your device. Although these updates are usually promoted as providing new feature x or y that you may or may not be interested in, they typically carry security-related improvements as well, so it’s a good idea to apply updates regularly.

5. Turn Off Bluetooth Discovery Mode

People often leave a smartphone’s Bluetooth discovery mode turned on at all times (sometimes it’s on by default), but you should disable discovery when you’re not trying to pair a device. Failure to do so will continuously advertise your phone’s existence to other Bluetooth-equipped devices nearby (albeit within Bluetooth’s limited range of about 30 feet), which can result in an unauthorized connection to the phone.

6. Keep Your Phone ‘In Jail’

This one’s pretty simple. It’s tempting to “jailbreak” or “root” your smartphone to access hidden features and unofficial apps. But if you’re concerned about security, don’t do it. This can circumvent many of the safeguards built into the smartphone’s operating system, opening avenues of vulnerability that may not be readily apparent.

7. Avoid Wi-Fi Hotspots

Think twice before connecting your smartphone to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, because just as with your PC, this kind of shared, unsecured connection can leave your activity and data vulnerable to eavesdropping and theft.

8. Mind Your Mobile Apps

With such a wide selection of smartphone apps available — most of them free or low-cost — it’s tempting to load up on anything and everything that catches your fancy. That’s not a good idea, because you can’t really be sure what an app is going to do once it’s on your phone. For example, malware-laden apps were recently discovered (and removed) from the Android app marketplace, some app makers are, have been found to breached data protection laws (often to advertising networks) without users’ knowledge or content.

There’s not too much you can do to protect yourself from unseen app behavior, other than to keep the number of apps to a minimum, and if possible, use an anti-virus app, which brings me to the  next tip.

9. Use Anti-virus/Internet Security Software

As mentioned earlier, the proliferation of smartphone has not gone unnoticed by malware purveyors, who are increasingly targeting the devices for attack. You probably wouldn’t dream of using a PC without anti-virus protection, and in a world where every app, Web link, or email you access with your smartphone can potentially harbor something malicious, it’s a good idea to use anti-virus and internet security software there as well.

We recommend ESET Mobile Security and install it for our clients for £14.99+vat per phone per year. Contact Us if you would like our help with this.

10. Beware of Text Message Spam

Text messages seem innocuous enough, but just like a Web page or an email, they can be used for mischief. Especially if you don’t/can’t use smartphone anti-virus protection, never respond to or follow any links in a text sent by an unknown party. You could find yourself with unwanted software on your phone or unexplained charges on your bill.

Update : Perhaps a sign of how high up the Agenda Cyber Security is can be seen from the UK Govt’s advice for business published 5th September 2012.Worth a read here 

If your concerned about your online and smartphone  security Contact Us for a free review and consultation .

Please feel free to comment below

Richard

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