13-Point Security Checklist for Smartphone Users

CLEVELAND, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – The rapid and widespread adoption of smartphones has profoundly transformed how we communicate, learn, solve problems, shop, travel, work, pay bills and entertain ourselves. Ease of use, convenience, instantaneous information access and an endless number of helpful or amusing applications (apps) have made the smartphone a device that a majority of owners keep within arm’s reach 24 x 7.

For many, the smartphone has become an indispensable tool for streamlining, enriching and organizing one’s life. With over 1 billion smartphones worldwide and 94.1 million in use domestically, the smartphone is arguably the most feature-rich, multifunctional device ever created. The smartphone is a thinking person’s Swiss army knife.

According to John Frankovich, COO and Managing Partner of Attevo’s Mobile Interaction Practice, “Mobile security must become second nature to users; these consumers need to be ever vigilant and proactive in managing the security of their smartphones.” To help with this task, Frankovich offers the following Attevo 13-Point Checklist of security habits and usage suggestions for all smartphone owners:

  1. Always maintain physical control over your smartphone to prevent outright theft, unauthorized usage or the installation of malware (apps with malicious code) by seemingly mild-mannered co-workers or by ruthless digital predators; treat a smartphone like a wallet, never leave it unattended in public spaces.
  2. Enable the smartphone’s password/passcode protection setting; a recent study reveals that only 38% of smartphone users enable this basic security feature.
  3. Install operating system updates whenever they become available to reduce the number of system vulnerabilities; a 2011 report indicated that 90% of Android users were running outdated operating system versions with serious security vulnerabilities.
  4. Install an anti-malware protection app (if available for the device) to thwart infection from malicious apps and websites; all major platforms have been hacked and are susceptible.
  5. When using the smartphone’s web browser, avoid suspicious/questionable websites that can be the source of malicious code.
  6. Be selective when buying or installing apps; wait for app reviews, download only from trusted sources (known app stores) and be cautious/suspicious of free apps, because they are free for a reason (the reason could be access to your data).
  7. Understand and control each downloaded apps “access” to smartphone data and personal information; game apps do not need access to phonebook contacts, photos, e-mails, location, browsing history, texting history and other phone features (avoid allowing automatic app updates).
  8. Do not save passwords, PINs or other account information as Contacts or in Notes.
  9. Avoid using open WIFIs, especially for shopping and banking activities; WIFI sniffing is a common occurrence that can have significant consequences like lost credit card numbers.
  10. Avoid opening suspicious e-mail or SMS text messages, especially from unknown sources; unwary readers may be unwillingly tricked into phishing by entering sensitive information from online prompts.
  11. Turn the Bluetooth access feature off when not needed and avoid Bluetooth use in busy public areas.
  12. Utilize a PIN to access voice-mail and avoid using the carrier’s default PIN setting.
  13. Insure that smartphone e-mail account access is through either a SSL or HTTPS connection so that transmitted data is encrypted.

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