Three quick tips for mobile security

By: Rosie Scott

Date: 21 May 2014

Three quick tips for mobile security/Mobile phone with shield icon{{}}Our tablets and smart phones go with us nearly everywhere — even to places many of us would prefer they didn’t (I’m looking at you, toilet-texters).

But although we treat mobile devices like extra limbs, I don’t know of any arms or legs that contain sensitive information about our identities, banking habits and current location.

Mobile threats range from app-based malware to adware and even ‘chargeware’ that costs you money without you realising it.

And, of course, there’s the age-old problem of leaving your phone in the pub after one too many pints.

Standard mobile security is pretty abysmal. So, what can you do to stay secure?

1. Know your permissions

When you open a new app on your smart phone, it may ask permission access other information or functions, like your contacts or location.

Don’t grant permissions without reading what the app is asking for. Instead, take time to get to know your permissions, then make educated decisions about what permissions you’re willing to grant.

A location-based application — like one that maps your runs — obviously needs to know your location. But does a drawing app?

Always ask yourself whether a permission request ties up with what the app is meant to do.

You can also check out the app’s reviews to decide whether to trust its creator. If they seem technologically adept, that’s a sign your data will be in good hands (or ones that aren’t malicious).

2. Don’t hack your device

Many smart phones come with restrictions put in place by your mobile service provider. For instance, you might only be able to install apps from an approved app store.

These restrictions can seem limiting, making it tempting to find ways to bypass them. But believe it or not, often those restrictions are in place for a reason.

They may relate to security holes or other vulnerabilities. You could expose these if you hack into your phone.

If you want to experiment, it’s better to do so on an old device. Keep your regular phone — and data — safe.

3. Reign in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

If you’re not using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, turn them off.

Keeping Wi-Fi on constantly can mean your phone connects to hotspots as you go, rather than using a secure mobile data connection.

That’s fine when you’re at work and you know the network. But it’s less secure when you’re using ‘Steve’s super-legit hotspot’ while you wait at a bus stop.

This isn’t an imagined threat. Recent research suggests rogue Wi-Fi networks are very much on the increase.

Even if Steve isn’t looking to steal your financial info, you have no way of knowing who else has access to his network.

The same goes for Bluetooth. Either turn it off when you’re not using it, or make sure the default settings don’t let other users connect to your device without permission.

For more information, read this mobile security guide guide from security experts Lookout.

Guest blog from Rosie Scott. Rosie is a content strategist at a digital marketing agency and avid blogger. You can find her at The New Craft Society www.thenewcraftsociety.com> or on twitter @RosieScott22.

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