By the time you read this blog, it’s likely that you’ve seen at least one or two stories in your Google Alerts concerning data security. In fact, we just finished a series of posts related to ransomware that included several tips for keeping your computer network safe, but what about your mobile devices?
If you’re one of the three-quarter of Americans who own a smartphone, your device probably contains personal and business contacts, family photos, and innumerable SMS conversations. Regardless of whether you’re toting an Android or Apple device every day, you’ve no doubt scrolled past ads for antivirus software in the app store. But you may be asking yourself, “Should I download a mobile antivirus application?” or “What can I do to secure my mobile device?” To help answer these questions, we consulted one of our IT specialists, Chris.
“I can’t really recommend [a mobile antivirus program],” he says, “because there isn’t an industry-wide consensus on whether they actually do anything beyond provide a data backup.”
“But some of the things you do for your desktop computers do apply,” Chris continues. “Always run updates on the operating system and any installed programs—especially those that contain, access, or even simply have access to anything you want to secure. Be aware of the rights that the program is requesting: if it needs access to your pictures or phone records, take a moment to think about why it would need this kind of access.”
Some applications, whether unintentionally or otherwise, introduce security holes that cybercriminals try to exploit to gain access to your private data. That means you have to investigate whether the app or the developer have a checkered past regarding device security.
“Only download apps from your device’s approved app store and read the reviews past the first couple that pop up,” Chris says. “You may even want to dig around for negative reviews to understand potential problems that others have experienced.”
Chris also advises running encryption with an auto-lock screen on your phone. “It’s probably one of the most proactive things you can do, aside from installing updates and closely scrutinizing app purchases,” he says. But there’s something else you can do that might not seem like a security issue at first glance: “Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and don’t connect to unknown open hot spots. It’s very common for thieves to set up fraudulent Wi-Fi hot spots that monitor your browsing, spoof the page you’re trying to access, or redirect you to a malware site.”