SET A PASSWORD ON YOUR PHONE
Especially while traveling, people tend to lose their phones in airports, cabs, and other public places. Setting a strong password for your phone and enabling the screen auto-lock time to be five minutes is the simplest way to keep your personal information private during this busy season. Make sure that your password is strong enough so that a thief can’t easily guess it..
INSTALL AND ENABLE REMOTE SERVICES
All major smartphone operating systems (Blackberry, iOS, Android, Windows Mobile) can be enabled with some or all of these features: remote lock, remote wipe, and even GPS location (for finding where your phone went) are available in many cases.
BACK UP YOUR DATA
Either through a product that offers this functionality, or simply by copying your documents, pictures and info to your computer. This can save you in the event of a lost, stolen, destroyed, or otherwise non-functioning phone.
ALWAYS KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR PHONE WHEN TRAVELING
As you’re going through airport security, watch your phone as it enters the x-ray machine and retrieve it immediately when it comes out—thieves will often steal phones during the few seconds where people don’t pay attention as they go through the metal detector. If you set your phone down on a counter or table, don’t let it out of your sight.
KEEP WI-FI AND BLUETOOTH OFF WHEN YOU ARE NOT USING THEM
Airports, coffee shops, and hotels are especially attractive targets for hackers around the holidays, as they can use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to attack phones and steal information. The easiest way to stay safe (and conserve battery) is to turn Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off when you aren’t using them. When you use Bluetooth, make sure it is in non-discoverable mode. When you use Wi-Fi, always try to use an encrypted network or use a VPN if your work has one, otherwise, hackers can easily “sniff” your data out of the air.
DON’T CONNECT TO UNTRUSTED WI-FI ACCESS POINTS
The coffee shop, the airport or other points of connectivity can be compromised or otherwise provide a way for others to access your secure data. Login data or personal information that you provide over these networks can sometimes be accessible to other people either connected to, or operating these access points. It is also worth mentioning that many services on current devices will “auto-synchronize” in the background without any user action. The information used to synchronize, or the information you send or receive during the syncing process could be available to others in this circumstance.
ON PUBLIC WI-FI, LIMIT EMAIL, SOCIAL NETWORKING AND ONLY WINDOW SHOP
Public Wi-Fi networks have become ubiquitous, but unfortunately securing the websites you may access haven’t. Many websites, email programs, instant messaging programs and social networking sites are not entirely safe to browse or access from a public Wi-Fi network. Also, trying to limit your online shopping to “window shopping” on a public network.
USE DESCRETION WHEN DOWNLOADING APPS
One of the most exciting things to do with a new smartphone is explore all the great applications you can download onto it. As you begin to explore, make sure you download responsibly. Only download apps from sites you trust, check the app’s rating and read the reviews to make sure they’re widely used and respected.
EXERCISE CAUTION WITH LINKS IN SMS MESSAGES
Smishing, or a combination of SMS texting and phishing, is when scammers send you a text to a malicious website or ask you to enter sensitive information. Don’t click on links in text messages or emails if you don’t know the sender or they look suspicious. Trust your instincts.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE PRIVATE DATA ACCESSED BY APPS
Applications have the capability to access a lot of information about you. When you install an app, take the time to read the data and personal information that it needs to access. Whether it is access to your location, your personal information or text messages, it should make sense that the application needs access to those capabilities.
DON’T JAILBREAK, ROOT OR OTHERWISE UNLOCK YOUR PHONE
While this may add some small increase in functionality, it can also completely disable the security architecture of your device.
NEVER ENTER YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION ON A SITE THAT BEGINS WITH ONLY “http://”
If a website ever asks you to enter your credit card information, you should automatically look to see if the web address begins with “https”. On unsecured networks, (those that have only have http://), mean a hacker could easily steal information like usernames, passwords and credit card numbers, which could lead to identity theft.
DON’T WAIT TO REPORT A PROBLEM
Immediately notify your network administrator or other responsible security person if your phone has been lost or stolen. Treat your phone as though it is your wallet. If you have backed up your data, you will recover.
DON’T SKIP UPDATES
Update your operating system, update your apps. Security flaws are found in both operating systems and applications every day. The longer you wait, the longer you risk being exposed.
DON’T ASSUME YOUR MOBILE DEVISE IS ANY SAFER THAN YOUR COMPUTER
It is a fact that viruses and other malware exist for mobile devices. Phishing attacks often still work on mobile browsers. Employ all the safety tactics you’d use on your regular computer. Check the address of the site you’re trying to access, avoid clicking links in email, or SMS/text messages, and avoid providing personal data whenever possible, even via SMS/text message.
Christopher Diamond is the driving force behind CDA Tech Pros (http://cdatechpros.com), a full service computer consulting and support firm in the Phoenix area of Arizona. Christopher honed his skills supporting the IT departments in the entertainment industry in California until he relocated to Mesa, AZ in 2005. He now offers the same corporate grade support to businesses in the Valley with a wide range of services including Consulting, Implementation, & Support for Computers, Servers, & Networks, IT Security Assessments & Solutions as