How secure is your phone?
This decade has seen the biggest rise in smartphone usage since the launch of the first recognised smartphone - the IBM Simon in 1994. It won't surprise you to know that mobile use is rapidly growing, even outstripping desktop usage in some fields, like banking1. We reach for our phones for anything from browsing your favourite online store to typing up notes at a conference, from editing photos and video to streaming your favourite show on the go. However, with 3G gradually being superseded by 4G2, allowing mobile data speeds to rival broadband, this increased mobile freedom opens us up to data privacy risks that no generation before has had to consider. What can you do to stay safe? Read on for our advice on how to help ensure your private details remain just that.
Do you use the same password for everything? Do you have a passcode on your phone? If you do, is it your date of birth or an easy combination of numbers like 1234 or 2580 (the numbers down the centre of the keypad)? Android and Windows phone users can be at risk too; how complicated is your lock screen pattern? A surprising proportion3 of mobile users leave themselves open to fraud by overlooking these basic things. The recommendation is to use strong passwords with capitalisation and include random numbers and symbols, where possible. Could your password be guessed by those who have access to information about you? Birthdays and other significant dates such as your anniversary or your children's birthdays are not strong enough. The more complex your passcode, the more secure your data. In addition to this, much like you would at an ATM, try to be discreet when you unlock your phone in public as you would when typing your pin at a card machine. It's all too easy for someone to look over your shoulder, take note of your passcode and then pick your pocket.
Open Wi-Fi hotspots
Be careful when using tempting free WIFI. The TSB mobile banking app operates through a 'secure shell', which means that using it is always safe, however other apps are not as protected. So, when connected to public and open Wi-Fi hotspots, your TSB banking app is secure but outside of the app, any data transferred is potentially under threat of fraud. Try to avoid typing sensitive data such as credit card information into online forms when connected to public Wi-Fi hotspots. Using auto-fill on your smart phone can also leave you vulnerable.
Security tools on your device
Android and iOS both have built-in security tools and application and memory encryption features enabled as default which protect your data. In addition to this, iOS is built in a way that isolates the installed applications and doesn't allow them to access or modify anything else on the phone. Because of this you cannot get third party security scanning apps for your iPhone. It's still a good idea to enable Find My iPhone which can allow you to find or wipe your device remotely, in case of loss or theft, so long as your phone remains connected to the internet. Android's base operating system is open source so you can install your choice of mobile security scanners which are similar to the antivirus software that you should have on your computer.
Email attachments and dodgy apps
Be wary of opening emails, specifically those with attachments from sources that you don't trust! You should also think twice about installing apps which are not offered in the official app store for your operating system, as this is an easy way for untrustworthy applications to infect your mobile. However even the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store can be tricked on occasion into offering dodgy apps - in 2013, 100,000 people downloaded a bogus Blackberry Messenger app. The only way to tell beforehand was to read the reviews as reviewers were warning users to stay away. How often do you read the reviews before you download?
There are many things that you can do to keep your smartphone secure. Find out more about Dell's Bring Your own Device security solutions .