February 14th, 2017

3 Rules for Smartphones

Your Smartphone is vulnerable to crime like all other computers, but the danger points are a little different.

Basic rules for Smartphone safety

These are the basics. Following these rules will drastically reduce your vulnerability.

  1. Don’t lose it. Losing your phone is the most likely way to compromise your phone security. Using PIN, password, or fingerprint authentication for entry provides some protection. Combining authentication with encryption is stronger yet. But not losing you phone is the strongest of all.
  2. Add new apps with caution. A new app is the most likely source of malware on your phone. Malware does occasionally make it through the app store testing processes. Check out your sources and the app’s reputation before you download. Don’t rely exclusively on the app store reviews. If you must side load, be ultra-cautious.
  3. Scrape off the cruft. Remove any apps that you have never used or no longer use. New vulnerabilities appear all the time, so minimize your exposure. Bonus: a lean machine usually performs better. You can always reinstall if you find you need an app.

If you have the basics, there are further steps you can take.

Supplementary rules

These apply to situations that don’t happen as often, but you want to avoid.

  1. If your phone is set up to automatically use Wi-Fi instead of cellular connections when Wi-Fi is available, be aware that it may automatically connect to an insecure public Wi-Fi site.
  2. There are more ways to hack a cellular wireless connection than a wired connection. If you must exchange ultra-private information that you suspect a skilled intruder may be after, use a temporary phone or a land line that is not associated with you.
  3. The contents of your cell conversations may be secure, but who you called, when you called, the length of the connection, and sometimes phone GPS coordinates are routinely recorded both on your phone’s SIMM Card and on your cellular carrier’s equipment. This “metadata” does not have special legal protection and may be obtainable without a search warrant or even sold by your carrier. Check your carrier’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

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