What risks are you taking with your smartphone?

Hoard's Dairyman: 

What risks are you taking with your smartphone?

Date: 
Thu, 05/17/2012

Your identity and phone are only as safe as you make them.

You shred bills, rarely give out credit card information, and have an anti-virus program installed on your computer. Your smartphone, though, can communicate more than you would like. If a smartphone is part of your technology arsenal, take a few precautions to protect your phone and identity from theft.

With three YouTube videos and a few fact sheets, the Identity Theft Resource Center provides valuable tips to help protect both your phone and personal information.

On its list of best practices, number one is password protecting your smartphone. A simple step, a password may prevent your information from being accessed.

Just as you should on a computer, install security software on your smartphone. A variety of companies offer anti-virus, malware, and security software designed especially for smartphones.

Take the same precautions as you would while on your home computer. Double check URLs for accuracy, don’t open suspicious links, and make sure a site is secure (https) before giving any billing or personal information.

Do not “jail-break” or use a “jail-broken” phone. A “jail-broken” phone is a phone that has gone through a process that opens its operating system to applications that would otherwise not be compatible with the operating system. However, once “jail-broken,” the phone is vulnerable to anything the user downloads.

Read the “small print” when installing apps. Evaluate the information the app requires access to, and consider if this information is necessary for the app to run successfully. If there is no reason for the app to have access to the information, reconsider installation.

Install a “phone finder” app. These apps are designed to help you find your phone if it becomes lost or stolen.

Enroll in a backup/wiping program. There are programs that will back up your phone’s information to your home computer. Many of these services are also able to wipe your phone if it is lost or stolen. iPhones have a built-in wipe feature that can be turned on and will wipe the phone after 10 failed log-on attempts.

Limit your activities when using public Wi-Fi. Try not to purchase things or access email. Hackers target public Wi-Fi hotspots since they can get direct access to your phone. Using your 3G connection is more secure.

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