Smartphone Security: Why it Matters

Tech

By Paul O’Reilly with TheOnlineMom

We are all going mobile. It could be a smartphone, an iPad, or some other handheld device, but we are increasingly living our always-connected lives on-the-go.

Whether we are working, checking our bank account balances, playing a few games, or just surfing the Web, we are becoming more dependent on mobile technology – and consequently more vulnerable. Because wherever our phone or tablet goes, so goes our data and online privacy.

Contacts, credit card information, e-mail – all the sensitive data that we thought was secured on our PCs at home or at work is slowly getting transferred to our mobile devices, except this time there is no security software to keep us safe.

These are some of the more common mobile security threats that we now face:

Malware
Infected apps are probably the number one source of malware on smartphones and tablets. This is particularly true of devices running the open Android platform. In the rush to compete with Apple’s App Store, thousands of early apps were uploaded to the Android Market with very little scrutiny. Consequently, many of them are infected with viruses or contain permissions that can open up our phones to malware and data theft.

Phishing e-mails and texts
Most smartphone e-mail and texting platforms do not have the spam filters that are now standard in PC-based programs, and the spammers and phishers have been quick to take advantage. Bogus and unsafe links often look less threatening and receive far less scrutiny when they are viewed on a smartphone screen rather than on a PC.

Spyware
GPS tracking software and other mobile surveillance programs have now reached a very high level of sophistication. The same “spyware” that allows parents to monitor their kids whereabouts, e-mails and texting habits can be used to stalk or spy on adult users. Many programs can be installed without the owner of the mobile device knowing and can run undetected indefinitely.

While there are common sense moves that we can make to protect ourselves – don’t leave an unlocked phone lying around; don’t click on suspicious links – there is also help at hand via smartphone security tools. Security software can combine anti-theft defenses with virus and spam protection to provide a much-needed level of comfort as we become more invested in the mobile world.

As well as providing real-time virus scanning and advanced firewall protection, mobile security software can block unwanted calls and texts, provide privacy features, and even disable or “clean” a phone of sensitive data if it is lost or stolen.

We’ve spent so much time and effort securing our desktops and laptops, it would be a shame to undo all that hard work by leaving our smartphones unprotected.

This article first appeared in Family Buzz, a VerizonInsider blog on the exciting and ever-expanding world of mobile technology.

The above article is reproduced from TheOnlineMom.com, a website dedicated to promoting a healthy understanding and appreciation of the positive role technology can play in family life.