Once upon a time the computers we used to access bank information and other sensitive data stayed firmly rooted on the desks in our home offices. They were vulnerable but just how vulnerable depended on the likelihood of a literal break-in. Now that same data travels with us everywhere in our pockets, stored on smartphones and tablets that are easy for us to lose and simple for others to swipe.
Scared? You should be concerned. Real mobile security threats have increased year by year according to security software maker NQ Mobile. Even worse, analysts at Gartner have found that the majority of mobile security breaches are the result of misconfiguration, misuse and mistakes on the part of the user. And just this year, close to 1 billion Android phones were discovered to be vulnerable to hacking via text messages.
The best Mobile Security Controlled by Users
The go-to protection most people look for is devices that are advertised as secure – and that’s a good first step towards mobile security. Choose a device with the best mobile processor and you are guaranteed certain protections right out of the box. The Snapdragon 820 processor, for example, comes with enhanced malware detection skills and ultrasonic fingerprint scanning technology. But out of the box security is never as effective as personal vigilance, and it’s actually easier than most people think to safeguard personal and private information on mobile devices. Here are the next steps for enhanced mobile security:
Keep up with operating system updates. These updates frequently address newly discovered security vulnerabilities; ignoring them puts devices at risk.
Use reputable anti-virus/malware software. Install and enable up-to-date virus and malware protection. Many highly-recommended security apps are actually free.
Install tracking and remote control apps for mobile security. That way if your device does fall into the wrong hands you can tell authorities where it is and lock or wipe it before thieves can access your data.
Lock all mobile devices automatically. Configure smartphones and tablets to lock automatically after a minute of inactivity and have the strongest password protections enabled.
Use smarter passwords for mobile security. Update all passwords every few months, never share them or store them in a mobile device and pick long passwords that use all allowable characters.
Anonymize your home screen. Many devices will show previews of incoming texts, messages, and emails on the locked home screen but these can reveal personal information. If possible, disallow home screen notifications.
Secure your network. Devices that work as wi-fi hotspots are vulnerable so always turn off hotspots when not in use and make sure the network is password protected.
Disable ‘Discoverable’ Bluetooth. Doing this prevents a smartphone from being seen by those scanning for Bluetooth devices in the area.
Confirm permissions. Take the time to check what downloaded apps can access, track and share. Whenever possible, use secure apps and disable permissions apps don’t require to run.
Download apps from reputable vendors only. Whenever possible download from the Google Play or iTunes stores, but always double check what you’re downloading. Rogue apps are a real threat.
Use secure wi-fi for personal transactions. Never access financial accounts, log into professional email accounts or share your personal or account information on public wi-fi.
And know where your device is. The easiest way to protect your data is to keep tabs on the device where it’s stored.
If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. The power to protect your sensitive data in the age of mobile is right there in your pocket.