Thursday, 24 March 2011

Smartphone Security: Using Your Mobile Phone Safely

Smartphone is like a little copy of your computer with lots of personal information: photos, text messages, access to e-mail account and other data. However unlike desktop or laptop PCs, mobile phones are more likely to be lost by slipping out of a pocket, being left in a taxi or just grabbed from your hands. Loaning your mobile phone to people or leaving it unattended is also unsafe. And not only because someone can break into it and get your personal data, but also because of various spyware programs that can be installed without you noticing it. For instance, special spy software for Blackberry can be used to eavesdrop on your phone conversation, track your location through GPS and even to monitor your text messages. In order to protect data you should consider using the password feature on your smartphone or not storing sensitive information on it at all. Another good tip is to back up your data to your PC regularly.

The virus attack on your mobile phone

Due to the fact that mobile phones are becoming more and more similar to computers, they are attacked by various viruses, trojans and worms as well. The largest part of these infections is spread via SMSes and e-mails, although there are other means too. In fact, the first malicious worms hit the iPhone in November 2009. The most dangerous of them have attempted to steal data such as banking user IDs and passwords. It should be noted that firstly these attacks affect iPhones which are "jail broken" as they can run applications that are not approved by Apple.

More Types of Attacks

Smartphone users should use web and e-mail features carefully if they don't want to be attacked by phishing or potentially malicious Web sites. Only one click and you will download the malware on your mobile device. So try to avoid clicking on links in text messages or e-mails, just like you do when you use a computer.

Use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi safely

Using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on your mobile phone is not safe, especially in a public place. For example, if you enable Bluetooth in your device at a coffee shop or other area, then any other Bluetooth-enabled device can send you almost everything: starting with unsolicited messages and ending with things leading to extra fees, corrupted or compromised data, virus infection or "bluesnarfing" (stolen data). The free public Wi-Fi connection isn't safer either as you can experience the "man-in-the-middle" attack which traffic is intercepted. So if you are doing something sensitive on your phone better use your password-protected home Wi-Fi. Moreover, to be completely safe, disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections unless you absolutely need to use them.

What about standard mobile phones?

Standard mobile phones are safer than smartphones when they are non web-enabled and don't pose the web-based threats. However, they are usually based or supported by Java, which is as susceptible to certain threats as smartphones are, and they can still be accessed by others. Therefore, you should avoid keeping sensitive information at any phone.

Smartphone Security Best Practices

Mobile threats have risen dramatically over the past few years. Here are a few tips that will help you to stay safe:
  • Download and install applications from reputable and trusted sources, e.g., Google application market, Ovi Store. Read application reviews written by other users and look at the developer name before downloading applications onto your smartphone.
  • Unsure that the permissions an application requests match the features it provides.
  • Download mobile security software for your smartphone. The majority of anti-virus software vendors provide mobile security software.

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