How to Protect Information on Smartphones
- Loss of device and information theft. Smartphones are small
and can easily be lost or stolen. Unauthorized users may access your accounts,
address lists, photos, and more to scam, harm or embarrass you or your friends. They may leverage stored passwords to access your bank and credit card
accounts, steal your money or make credit card charges; gain access to
sensitive material, and more.
- Social Engineering. A
common mobile threat is social engineering. Whether via text message, image, or
application to download, an incoming communication may be an attempt to gain
access to your information. A current
example consists of a text message that comes from an unknown number, telling
you that if you click on the link provided, you’ll have access to thousands of
free ringtones. If this sounds too good
to be true, that’s because it is. The
link is in fact a malicious link.
Clicking on it will compromise the security of your smartphone.
- TMI (Too Much Information). Guidelines for protecting
privacy, safety, and reputation when sharing via computers also apply when
sharing via smartphones. Mobile devices enable instantaneous capturing,
posting, and distribution of images, videos, and information. They may also
broadcast location information.
- Public Wi-Fi. Smartphones are susceptible to malware and
hacking when leveraging unsecured public networks.
- Bluetooth and Near Field Communications (NFC). Bluetooth is a wireless network technology that uses short-wave radio transmissions to transmit voice and data. NFC allows for smartphones to communicate with each other by simply touching another smartphone, or being in proximity to another smartphone with NFC capabilities or a NFC device. Risks with using NFC and Bluetooth include eavesdropping, through which the cyber criminal can intercept data transmission, such as credit card numbers. NFC also has the risk of transferring viruses or other malware from one NFC-enabled device to another.
- Update the operating system. Smartphones are computing
devices that need to be updated. Updates often provide you with enhanced
functionality and enriched features, as well as fixes to critical security
vulnerabilities. Your smartphone manufacturer should notify you whenever an
update is available.
- Use of security software is a must. As the smartphone market is increasing, so
too is the amount of malware designed to attack smartphones. The software
security solutions that are available for desktops and laptops are not as
widely available for smartphones. A key protection is to use mobile security
software and keep it up-to-date. Many of these programs can also locate a
missing or stolen phone, will back up your data, and even remotely wipe all data
from the phone if it is reported stolen.
- Password-protect your device. Enable strong password
protection on your device and include a timeout requiring authentication after
a period of inactivity. Secure the smartphone with a unique password – not the
default one it came with. Do not share your password with others.
- Think before you
click, download, forward, or open. Before responding, registering, downloading
or providing information, get the facts. No matter how tempting the text,
image, or application is, if the download isn’t from a legitimate app store or
the site of a trusted company, don’t engage with the message.
extensive rights to accessing and leveraging your personal information. If the app requires more access to your
account and/or device than is needed to run the service, do not continue. In
- Be cautious with public Wi-Fi. Many smartphone users use
free Wi-Fi hotspots to access data (and keep their phone plan costs down).
There are numerous threats associated with Wi-Fi hotspots. To be safe, avoid
logging into accounts, especially financial accounts, when using public
- Disable Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC)
capabilities when not in use. Capabilities such as Bluetooth and NFC can
provide ease and convenience in using your smartphone. They can also provide an
easy way for a nearby, unauthorized user to gain access to your data. Turn these features off when they are not
- Enable encryption. Enabling encryption on your smartphone is one of the best ways to
safeguard information stored on the device, thwarting unauthorized access.
- Securely dispose of your device. With the constant changes and upgrades in the smartphone market, many are upgrading their devices on a regular basis. It is important that you wipe the information from your smartphone before disposal. Additionally, make sure any SD cards are removed and erased. If you are not redeploying the SIM card to another device, then make sure your personal information stored on the SIM card is erased or destroyed.
Stop. Think. Connect. Three simple actions that will help keep you safe in cyber space. The state's website on cyber security also provides information on computer and mobile device security, updates, alerts and advisories as well as security newsletters, educational resources and federal, state and local government resources. Take some time to check it out: http://cybersecurity.sd.gov/.