Smartphones and other mobile devices have become an integral part of our lives. However, many users are unaware of the risks involved with putting so much of their personal information into these
Smartphones and other mobile devices have become an integral part of our lives. However, many users are unaware of the risks involved with putting so much of their personal information into these devices.
Mobile Security and how we take it for granted. By Patrick Vogel Image by Ciccioetneo on flickr
Smartphones and other mobile devices have become an integral part of our work and social lives, with 63% of students in 2010 using some sort of handheld device. Source: ECAR Image by rogersmj on flickr
These devices have become “remote controls for our lives,” through which we can communicate with friends and colleagues, take and store photos and videos, access social media sites, as well as a whole host of other things, all from the palms of our hands. Image by Public Domain Photos on flickr
However, these convenient devices are fraught with numerous security and privacy issues that many users are either not aware of, or choose to ignore. Image by chego101 on flickr
We seem to ignore the fact that we are literally carrying all of our personal information around in our pockets. If your Smartphone is misplaced or stolen, it only takes a few clicks or taps of a screen for someone to access your personal e-mails, (naughty) photos, social networking sites (which keep you logged in for convenience), or even banking information. Photo by lululemon athletica on flickr
In addition to information that users knowingly put on their Smartphones, both Android phones and iPhones regularly transmit location info back to Google and Apple. On iPhones, a tracking file stores the latitude and longitude of cellphone towers and Wi-Fi access points with which the phone has interacted. Experts may also harvest call logs, map search results from the device’s Google Maps app and logs of what’s been typed into the iPhone’s virtual keyboard from the phone. Source: “Smartphone privacy threats no surprise to security experts”. By Patrick May and Troy Wolverton. Thestar.com, April 27th, 2011. Image by IvyMike on flickr.
These devices contain so much personal information, that smartphone forensics experts refer to them as “digital fingerprints.” Source: “Smartphone privacy threats no surprise to security experts”. By Patrick May and Troy Wolverton. Thestar.com, April 27th, 2011. Image by Phixaakh on flickr
Despite these risks, only 23% of Smartphone owners use the security software installed on their devices. Source: Trend Micro Inc. survey of 1,016 U.S. smartphone users, June 2009 Image by –JvL- on flickr
Most of us wouldn’t dream of operating our Mac or PC without a password and security software, so why doesn’t this caution apply to devices that fit in in the palm of our hand and can be lost in seconds? Photo by D’Arcy Norman on flickr
This relaxed attitude towards mobile security has become a major concern for businesses, which are struggling to keep up with the demands of securing these devices. Image by wwarby on flickr
The large variety of makes and platforms for Smartphones makes it difficult for companies’ IT consultants to uniformly secure important data on employees’ devices. Image by jurvetson on flickr
Another problem is that many employees see their mobile devices as something personal, and not something that IT should control. They see it as something that is “blue and plays music,” not something that needs to be secured. Source: “Smartphones need smart security practices” Mary Brandel, computerworld.com, January 18th, 2010. Image by Yutaka Tsutano on flickr
Some companies have tried to combat this problem by purchasing standard Smartphones for their employees. However, even this does not stop workers from having “the company phone in their left pocket, and their personal phone in their right.” Source: “Smartphones need smart security practices” Mary Brandel, computerworld.com, January 18th, 2010. Image by cambodiaforkidsorg on flickr
“Indeed, in a recent study of 300 companies in the U.S. and Europe by Good Technology Inc., a vendor of mobile security and management tools, nearly 80% of the respondents reported an increase in the number of employees who wanted to bring their own devices into the workplace in the past six to 12 months, and 28% reported a data breach because of an unauthorized device.” Source: “Smartphones need smart security practices” Mary Brandel, computerworld.com, January 18th, 2010. Image by meddygarnet on flickr
Since securing data is the sole responsibility of the company, there are a number of services available which allow businesses to centrally control password management, authentication authorization, strong encryption, inactivity timeout and remote wiping if a device is stolen or lost. Source: “Smartphones need smart security practices” Mary Brandel, computerworld.com, January 18th, 2010. Image by CarbonNYC on flickr
A simple solution for individuals looking to keep their information secure is to enable passcode locking on your phone, and SIM card PIN access so that someone who has stolen or found your misplaced phone cannot access its data. Image by .schill on fiickr
If you are unhappy or concerned with the way that companies like Apple and Google track their devices locations, make yourself heard by voting with your dollar and purchasing a product from a company that does not invade their user’s privacy. Imabe by bfishadow on flickr
You should also be wary of mobile privacy when it comes to encounters with the police. Since Smartphones are such a new technology, there are still not clear laws regarding the legality of cellphone searches. So it is important to be cautious and know your rights. Source: “Smartphone Searches Not So Smart” Popular Mechanics, April 22nd, 2011. Image by swiftmed on flickr
If you’re worried about your Smartphone or other mobile device’s security, don’t panic! Image by Nate Steiner on flickr
Do some research and find out what your options are for security and privacy. Then you can get back to your love affair with your mobile.