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Security


Mobile Devices

What is a mobile device? Can you carry it around without wires? Can it browse the web, read email, text, download apps? It is probably a mobile device.

Mobile device examples: cell phones, smart phones, tablets, notebooks, music players, iPods, iPads, mobile gaming systems.

The Problem

The explosion in mobile technology has made our lives more convenient and more connected. With the added mobility and convenience they provide there are additional risks to your privacy and security.

The most obvious risk is inherent in the fact that the technology is mobile. Theft and loss of mobile devices is common and if you read the head lines it can have a negative impact on your reputation, confidentiality, and privacy. You may think it is just a device and if stolen it can be replaced. But have you taken stock of what you keep on your trusty mobile device? Do you remember all of the content in your emails that you sync to your smart phone? Who is in your contact list and what contact details are now in the wrong hands? Have you forgotten about that one excel spreadsheet with the social security numbers in it that you put on your notebook 2 months ago? What about those less than flattering photos of you and your friends you forgot to delete off your phone?

Criminals do not even have to touch your phone to do damage. If your phone has Bluetooth you could be vulnerable to a security loophole such as BlueBug (http://trifinite.org/trifinite_stuff_bluebug.html). Your contacts and SMS messages could be downloaded, phone calls placed, all without you knowing.

Smart phones and tablets are not immune to viruses or phishing attacks (http://www.pcworld.com/article/226788/how_to_lock_down_your_smartphone.html). Mobile Malware is on the rise and is one of the new favorite playgrounds for cyber criminals. According to McAfee Labs mobile malware samples have nearly doubled between 2009 and 2011 (http://www.mcafee.com/us/resources/reports/rp-quarterly-threat-q2-2011.pdf) Mobile devices are just one more way for cyber criminals to reach you where ever you are, so the same rules apply as if you were using your computer. Be skeptical of what you click on, what you install, and where you browse.

Tips

Password protect all of your mobile devices, including your cell phone. A password is your first line of defense.

Enable an auto-lock feature. When your phone is not being used it should auto-lock and require a password to be unlocked.

Switch Bluetooth to hidden mode or turn it off completely. If you are not using Bluetooth, remove the risk entirely by turning it off.

Avoid putting confidential information on your mobile device. If you must put confidential information on your mobile device it is imperative that you encrypt your mobile devices storage and/or the confidential information (not possible on all mobile devices).

Consider using a remote wipe service or tracing software. In the event that your mobile device is stolen you can act immediately to determine its location or remotely wipe the device memory.

Be careful where you download your applications for your phone. Staying within the bounds of manufacturer market places or app stores is a good first step. Downloading apps from third party markets or stores have a higher probability of carrying along malicious software. To further decrease your risk download applications from companies with a good reputation.

Consider security / malware protection software for your mobile device. As malware on mobile devices continues to increase, it is becomming more important to have security software.

Keep all software up to date, including the operating system and installed "Apps". This helps protect the device from attack and compromise.

 

For more information on security software for your mobile device: http://www.pcworld.com/article/226788/how_to_lock_down_your_smartphone.html