Saturday, April 16, 2011

Are Smart Phones As Safe as Computers

I must admit, I was not a supporter of smart phones. I was quite happy with my cell phone that I only used to make phone calls or send a few texts. Then, my cell phone died and I was forced to get a new one. I got a new one for personal use then decided to get a smart phone for business use. I went shopping and got excited at a sale that offered me a free phone with access to the internet, texting options, applications, fun games, video recording, a camera, the ability to access my email and more. I was hooked. Now I am a big fan of smart phones and because of that I never let my smart phone out of my sight.

I don’t make transactions on my smart phone, I don’t text personal information, SSN, addresses or account numbers on my smart phones and I don’t fill out application forms, i.e. contests, event registrations, etc. on my smart phone. Some smart phones owners believe they can use their smart phone just like their computer, unfortunately you can’t. Many smart phones have high security risks such as the Android and iPhone. In addition, you don’t how the company stores the data, where the data is stored, if the data is encrypted, If the data is backed up on a regular basis, how long the data is stored, etc.

According to a Trend Micro Inc. survey in 2009, only 23% of smartphone owners use the security software installed on the devices. If a smart phone is lost or stolen, sold, repaired, recycled, or has a removable SIM card data can be quickly exposed without the previous owners’ knowledge. If you store personal information on your smart phone your life could be ruined.

Smart phones are also exposed to hackers, worms, viruses, trojans and malware just like computers. Most smart phone owners don’t bother backing up their data or downloading the latest software. Here are 9 common risks with smart phones to be aware of.

1. Password. Not creating a password for your phone allows anyone to pick up your phone and access your texts, emails, calendar, and other personal information. When entering your password make sure no one is watching you. Create a password with letters and numbers with no repeat values.
2. Inactivity/Lock. Enable the auto lock feature on your phone to prevent someone from accessing information on your phone. You can also set your phone to lock after short periods of inactivity.
3. Encryption. Contact your vendor to find out if the company uses encryption to protect customer data. Most major smart phones vendors use encryption.
4. Data. Don’t store or enter personal information on your smart phone. Don’t make purchases on your smart phones. Even if the website you are using is secure, it doesn’t mean you smart phone is secure.
5. Software. Check at least once month to ensure your smart phone has the latest version of software and patches.
6. Storage. Delete old emails and text messages at least once a week from your smart phone even if you have paid for ample storage to minimize security breaches.
7. Shut down. Cut your phone off each night to reduce exposure to security risks.
8. Downloading. Downloading applications from unknown websites increases your exposure to worms, viruses and malware.
9. Texting. Texting your smart phone number to get ring tones, advertisements, alerts or notifications or to vote also increases your exposure to security risks as well as telemarketer advertisements. Your personal information is sold to telemarketers including your smart phone number.

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