By now, most people realise the importance of protecting their computers by keeping up to date on anti-virus software, but many people don’t realise that it’s just as important (if not more important) to protect their smart phones.
Smart phones are extremely popular these days and for good reason! There are so many exciting opportunities available with the smart phone and all of the different apps out there; it’s easy to forget that your smart phone is essentially a mini computer. "Any device you’re using to access the internet needs to be protected accordingly,” urges Martin Cocker, executive director of New Zealand’s NetSafe. What’s more, "many people don’t make judgments about where an app is coming from when they download it.”
Apps can be very dangerous, especially the free ones, because it’s very easy for cyber criminals to take an app and slide a Trojan in without you ever knowing. "If you aren’t properly protected, you’re opening yourself up to all kinds of problems,” adds Symantec consumer spokesperson, David Hall. He explains that criminals are beginning to exploit the Android operating system especially, due to its open platform. "Anyone can write or post anything and it’s very easy to Trojanize apps.”
Hall notes that free apps are especially concerning because even if they don’t carry viruses, they allow your every move to be tracked – from your text messages to your online activities. You may not be paying for the app per say, but you are paying by relinquishing your privacy. "Free apps open up a whole heap of privacy concerns,” Hall adds.
In addition to privacy and security concerns related to the internet, there is also the common issue of losing your phone or having it stolen. This is concerning because oftentimes with smart phones, people have automatic logins for Facebook and email. Thieves can also use your phone for snooping purposes, not to mention most smart phones come at a pretty hefty price these days, so losing yours could set you back a couple of pay checks!
In order to keep yourself protected, Hall recommends the following steps:
- Set a lock code. This is the easiest and most important thing you can do to protect your phone.
- Invest in anti-theft/anti-malware. In addition to anti-virus, you can also look into cool features like remote locking (allowing you to text your phone from anyone else’s phone to lock it if it gets lost or stolen) and the ability to text your phone from anyone else’s phone when you lose it and have your phone text you back its location. Pretty awesome stuff!
- Keep the details of your phone (the box it came in and the instructions manual) so that you have all of the important information you need should the phone be stolen or lost.
- Inform your insurance company if you do get an expensive new smart phone, as this may be something specific they need to add into your policy.