If you’re anything like me you have a lot of personal information on your smartphone. Doesn’t matter if it’s an iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android device, we have emails, pictures, login info for social networks and “other stuff” that you might not want getting into the wrong hands. You bank online through your phone? Maybe have one of those great mobile apps from your bank? Cool, me too. Yeah but how is that information stored on your device? Hackers know all this too and now have our smartphones and tablets squarely in their crosshairs. Hackers are devising ways to attack smartphones through attachments, Flash, email, or your mobile browser so they can get at your information or, even scarier, plant something on your device that can be transferred to your computer the next time you sync.
This isn’t a fairytale either, between hacked USB cables and most recently how easily iPhones can be compromised we know that all of this can be done. Solutions? I think Apple, RIM, and others are going to have to take this very seriously (I’m sure they are) so that people can be confident that their devices can be made safe and secure, but in the meantime what can you do?
- Keep your device close to you. Both the iOS attack and the USB cable attack require physical access to your device to make it work, so leaving your phone “for just a minute” is just not a smart thing to do. The iOS hack only needs 6 minutes to complete. Would you notice when you got back to your phone? Maybe, but maybe not. Keeping your device out of the hands of bad people is the first step.
- Be careful what you install and load. Free apps are great, but both RIM and Android devices have had a few nasty malware apps make the rounds, Apple devices are less prone to this, but still not immune.
- Use a password vault on your device. My choice is 1Password. I have ready access to all my login details, but my browser doesn’t need to keep them. Not perfect for apps that need usernames and passwords, but it’s a start.
- Limit the email you keep on your device. If you keep sensitive files, emails or documents on your device … well either they should be encrypted or they shouldn’t be there. At eCrypt our eCrypt Me service only sends the notification that you have a sensitive email in as plain text, the emails themselves are kept away from prying (or sniffing) eyes.
- Be careful about the sites you visit and things you download. We know that “those sites” can be dangerous and mobile browsers can still be vulnerable to hacks, attacks, and other things that could let hackers into your phone.
The bottom line is that you need to be aware that, like your desktop computer or laptop, your smartphone is a device on the Internet and can be vulnerable to the threats out there. We all need to be aware, careful, cautious and smart how we use these pieces of tech…that also happen to have a lot of sensitive info on them as well.