Unprecedented connectivity of modern mobile phones brings along the same risks as with laptops or home computers as well as any device that benefits from an Internet connection. Smartphones today collect an impressive amount of personal data, from the privacy sensitive (photos, SMSs, personal documents) to the security sensitive (online banking data, financial or personal information). The first thing about safeguarding secrets is not to have any, but this is a hard thing to do when in the world of possibilities revealed by modern technology. Not doing any online banking in order to keep your bank account safe may sound like not ever seeing the sea in order not to drown, or even worse. Fortunately, a safe approach to mobile and smartphone usage can ensure the benefits while avoiding the risks.
Password and PIN. First things first: protecting your phone with a strong password and/or personal PIN closes the first gate of access into your privacy. Enable auto-lock if available.
Think before you install apps. Even if it seems a fun idea at the time, with the tons of mobile apps out there you should be careful which one you install – and for what reasons. Make sure the application you install is from a trusted source, read user reviews and check app’s and developer’s rating before you install. In the mobile market, search for anti-spyware software and install it to prevent being watched without your knowledge or other unwanted stealthy (and ill intended) interventions.
Use security software. Using latest version of security software and keeping it on automatic update is a must. Mobile markets show a booming trend in terms of usage and connectivity, with smartphones and particularly Android platforms being the most active. Third party applications can pose a risk, as more and more malicious APKs appear on the market, masked as harmless software. As mobile stores cannot guarantee all the applications they display are safe, the growing emergence of malware and greyware (applications that can pose a security risk if used inadvertently, or is otherwise undesirable, such as spyware and adware) on these markets calls for trustworthy, dedicated security products.
Keep software up to date. Beginning with the OS and security software you should use, always keep the software up to date. Patches and security updates released regularly by the developers and malware signature databases updated by security products vendors should dramatically decrease the risks.
Keep an eye on the links. Same with any other device that uses the Internet, double-check the links you are about to click. See also Learn how to identify phishing e-mails.
Prevent theft, enable recovery. The more personal data stored on you mobile phone, the more careful you should be about not losing it in the first place. If such thing occurs, modern phones provide features such as tracing and tracking software and remote wipe – so make sure you enable them when you start using your phone. Make a habit out of backing up the data on your mobile phone on a regular basis.
Use an encryption solution along with security software. Search for and install an encryption solution for your smartphone to keep the exchange of data secured.
Take precautions when connecting to public WiFi spots.
Use it for what it does. If you’re using your phone to connect to the Internet for reading e-mails, surfing the web, gaming, social networking and other activities involving an Internet connection, in terms of security you should treat it as you do your laptop or your computer at home.