Exploring Your Cell Phone Security Options

May 20, 2013

Cell phone security features shield mobile devices from external threats. Four categories of problems currently cause major headaches for cellular consumers. By combining common sense and specially designed technology, customers keep their personal information private.

Major Threats

In a June 2011 interview with the Cable News Network (CNN), software designers at Norton described the problematic scenarios pertaining to mobile devices.

Malware consists of embedded coding that steals a victim’s personal information.

Short message system (SMS) billing problems occur when malware sends repeated texts to premium services, resulting in substantial subscriber charges.

Phishing uses information retrieved via texts or email to request personal data like banking information.

Spyware permits others to track and monitor user activity after program installation.

Contaminated websites pose less of a threat to mobile devices, but some browsers like Safari do experience occasional problems.

Default Security Options

Users should become acquainted with existing device security features. Manufacturers recommend locking the screen with a custom password and generating a personal identification number (PIN) to secure the subscriber identity module (SIM) card, if applicable. Setting devices to lock after a few minutes reduces the opportunity for spyware uploads.

Outside Options

There are a number of specialized antivirus software programs currently on the market. In addition to offering protection against questionable downloads, the programs delete information from misplaced handsets and track lost devices. Some encrypt texts and emails to make it harder for hackers to intercept personal data.

Due Diligence

Users need to make good choices and closely monitor their usage to avoid becoming a victim. The Australian government reminds its citizens that mobile devices are portable computers that need equal protection from virtual threats [staysmartonline.gov.au/home_users/Secure_your_mobile_phone_and_devices]. Basic reminders include:

Users need to stick with website addresses given to them by their bank or other known businesses. Clicking on a strange link can result in unintentional malware installation.

Customers should closely inspect monthly billing statements for unfamiliar charges or other unexpected increases.

Browsing over secured wireless Internet connections (Wi-Fi) reduces the possibility of hacking.

Bluetooth connections need to remain hidden, making devices undetectable to hackers.

Cell phones have become an important part of modern society. Many underestimate the importance of protecting their handset, but the devices are invaluable to identity thieves and hackers. A variety of free and premium tools are available for safer cell usage.