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Turn Your Smartphone Into A Safe

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12/7/2012 9:22:51 AM

How to secure your smartphone against threats

Description: Not long ago it was absurd to think of your phone needing security software. Times change

Not long ago it was absurd to think of your phone needing security software. Times change

Now that your smartphone is more palm-sized computer than simple portable telephone, you need to secure it. This article will point out some of the ways your smartphone is at risk and recommend how you can best mitigate that risk.

Security apps

Description: Security apps on the Android platform scan apps for spyware and malware

Trojans, worms, viruses, and spyware exist on your smartphone platform of choice just as they do on desktop platforms, which means you should be passing everything you download through a security filter. Just like on your desktop, an antivirus app periodically checks the software on your system against a list of known malware and flags any matches. These virus scanners also scan apps before installing them to give you a heads-up if something about the app looks suspicious. The Android platform offers numerous genuine virus scanners; iOS users will find fewer of these, due to the strict nature of the App Store’s approval process. Nonetheless, iOS users can and should download apps that check URLs and QR codes for links to malicious Web sites. Many of these apps also include information about the latest threats detected on the Web, so you can be more aware when using your other devices.

Practice safe downloading

iOS-based iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices rely on a strict application vetting process to weed out software threats before they appear on the App Store, and the apps that are available are isolated from critical aspects of your phone, including contacts and messaging apps. Android-based smartphones, on the other hand, have a lower barrier to entry; because of that, some malicious apps have made it onto Google Play. Every Android app you download, however, is required to display the functions of the phone it taps into. Android users can avoid being scammed by paying attention to the permissions for each app prior to download. For instance, a live wallpaper app doesn’t need access to your contacts list, so don’t download one that requests that permission. (In contrast, a navigation app does need that access, so that it can display directions to a friend’s home without forcing you to manually enter the friend’s address).

Description: Pay attention to the permissions for the apps you download

Pay attention to the permissions for the apps you download

Android users can download applications from unknown sources by adjusting a setting in the Security menu, but iOS users must jailbreak their devices to access them. Avoid installing apps from unknown or third-party application stores whenever possible. These locations will typically have less stringent standards and some may even knowingly host malicious applications.

Device finders

There’s no reason for the loss or theft of a smartphone to automatically equate to identity theft. All smartphone platforms offer apps that are capable of helping you recover your property before your data falls into the wrong hands. On iOS, the Find My iPhone app lets you use another iOS-based device or the Web to locate your device on a map and remotely play an alert tone, notify whoever has the phone that it is lost, or erase the phone’s data. Similar apps exist on the Android platform.

Description: Device-locating apps can help you recover a lost or stolen smartphone

Device-locating apps can help you recover a lost or stolen smartphone

Passwords & patterns

One of the first steps you should take with your phone is to enable a lock screen with a security code or lock pattern. Smartphones have this function built in, and it can keep thieves from accessing your data without your authorization.

Increase your Wi-Fi awareness

Finally, like laptops users, smartphone users need to be wary of using open Wi-Fi networks. When your cellular network speeds are lagging, the temptation to sign onto the nearest open Wi-Fi network can be great, but cyber thieves can target these cellular dead zones and snoop as you browse.

 

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