Throughout today’s modern world, one in six people has a smartphone. That’s over one billion personal smartphones potentially in use at any given time. As more and more people use their phones as they would a home computer or laptop, smartphones are becoming as vulnerable to attack as their bigger cousins. Banking transactions are increasingly carried out via smartphone, which presents risks to financial security previously seen only in the use of home computers.
Why, then, are we not protecting our smartphones from data breaches? Studies have shown that up to 80% of smartphones are operating with absolutely no safeguards in place to prevent security breaches. This leaves an unimaginable amount of personal data exposed and available to hackers, and severely compromises security.
Consider some of thesetips from security experts with degrees in cybersecuritythat can take your smartphone’s protection to the next level.
Check Your Operating System
For the most part Android phones are the most susceptible to a security breach due to its open form operating system. Almost 95% of the hack attempts in 2012 were directed at Android phones. This is more problematic due to the fact that Android is the most popular phone in use today. While Android’s open platform is wonderful in terms of creativity and inventiveness, it is also particularly vulnerable.
Apple’s iOS system and Windows phones were targeted as well, but not as often or as fiercely as Android devices were. This is directly related to the fact the Apple and Windows use platforms that are much more secure.
Those who enjoy their Android phones and prefer not to switch to another system should consider investing in security software for their device to prevent any further attempted hacks.
Lock Your Phone
While this may sound like a no-brainer, the fact is that many people simply do not use the screen lock feature on their smartphone. This simple task can make all the difference if your phone is lost or stolen.
However, even the craftiest thieves can bypass the lock feature, so here are a few other steps to take:
- Don’t save passwords. It may be convenient to save the passwords for various sites when you’re prompted to do so, but don’t. If your phone’s lock feature is compromised, thieves will have access to all of your information, including that of your bank.
- Invest in password management. The same password management software you might be using for your laptop can be synced to your mobile device. This obligates the user to provide a master password to access all accounts and does well to thwart hackers.
- Take care with apps. For Android users it’s smart to configure your app system so that it does not download from any app store other than Google Play. This can prevent apps from unsecure sources being installed on your phone.
Consider the Source
Free Wi-Fi service that various cities and businesses offer can be a pleasant surprise, especially for those users with strict data plans. The problem can be in the security, or lack thereof, of those networks. Security features on public hotspots can never be fully trusted.
In some cases,hackers set up phony networks in public places to encourage users to login and conduct business. This allows them access to every keystroke that you make while connected to this network. Never conduct financial transactions or login to important or sensitive websites on a network that might be unsecured or compromised.
Consider Security Software
If you have never considered security or antivirus software for your smartphone, now is the time to do so. Specialized mobile versions of antivirus and antimalware software do exist and have for some time. These programs can protect your device from malware attacks and phishing attempts and can safeguard your sensitive and valuable data.
Another good option is the tried and true “track and wipe” software. Laptop users have been taking advantage of this for years. The software operates by tracking a stolen device via GPS in the hope that
law enforcement can then find and secure it. In the event that does not happen, the software also has the ability to wipe any and all sensitive data from storage drives.
As long as periodic backups of your smartphone are done, this type of software can save the user a great deal of time and frustration, as well as money.
It’s safe to say that as mobile devices continue to advance their features and usability, there will be an even greater need for smartphone security than ever before. Now is the time to investigate various methods to protect your phone and all of the sensitive and personal information that it contains.
About the Author: Austin Jameson is a mobile app developer and works in the field of IT security. He recently graduated from Utica College’s cybersecurity department.