Inattention to potential security threats can result in the invasion of privacy, identity theft, inconvenience, the loss of intellectual property and the actual loss of money.
The more dependent a smartphone user is on the technology, the more they have at risk.
Attevo offers this 13-point checklist of security habits and usage suggestions for all smartphone owners:
- Always maintain physical control over your smartphone to prevent outright theft, unauthorized usage or the installation of malware (apps with malicious code) by seemingly mild-mannered co-workers or by ruthless digital predators; treat a smartphone like a wallet, never leave it unattended in public spaces.
- Enable the smartphone's password/passcode protection setting; a recent study reveals that only 38% of smartphone users enable this basic security feature.
- Install operating system updates whenever they become available to reduce the number of system vulnerabilities; a 2011 report indicated that 90% of Android users were running outdated operating system versions with serious security vulnerabilities.
- Install an anti-malware protection app (if available for the device) to thwart infection from malicious apps and websites; all major platforms have been hacked and are susceptible.
- When using the smartphone's web browser, avoid suspicious/questionable websites that can be the source of malicious code.
- Be selective when buying or installing apps; wait for app reviews, download only from trusted sources (known app stores) and be cautious/suspicious of free apps, because they are free for a reason (the reason could be access to your data).
- Understand and control each downloaded apps "access" to smartphone data and personal information; game apps do not need access to phonebook contacts, photos, e-mails, location, browsing history, texting history and other phone features (avoid allowing automatic app updates).
- Do not save passwords, PINs or other account information as Contacts or in Notes.
- Avoid using open Wi-Fis, especially for shopping and banking activities; Wi-Fi sniffing is a common occurrence that can have significant consequences like lost credit card numbers.
- Avoid opening suspicious e-mail or SMS text messages, especially from unknown sources. Unwary readers may be unwillingly tricked into phishing by entering sensitive information from online prompts.
- Turn the Bluetooth access feature off when not needed and avoid Bluetooth use in busy public areas.
- Utilize a PIN to access voice-mail and avoid using the carrier's default PIN setting.
- Insure that smartphone e-mail account access is through either a SSL or HTTPS connection so that transmitted data is encrypted.
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