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Be Savvy Using Your Smartphone

By Alice Magos | June 29, 2012

Smartphones put the digital world in our pockets, but this wonderful convenience has a price . . . not in dollars per se, but in exposure to risks such as ID theft, viruses, and malware, just like those attacking our regular computers every day.

Traditional methods for countering such attacks in a mobile environment are not yet very effective. New measures are emerging at a slower rate than new frauds are created by today's digital criminals. Until technology catches up with the crooks, smartphone users must be extra vigilant and suspicious of anything that doesn't seem just right.

Some basic steps you can take to prevent incursions into your smartphone system start with Bluetooth features. Be sure yours is set to the highest security mode and is disabled whenever you are not actively using it. So many convenient uses, such as sending a document to a wireless printer, can leave your confidential data open to hackers if a shared network has not been properly secured. Be super aware of any WiFi connections that you may use.

As mobile banking becomes more and more common, criminals imitating financial institutions will proliferate. Be suspicious of text messages. Confirm they have an authentic source before responding with any information.

Links deserve a dollop of suspicion, too. If you are sent a link, think it over carefully before just clicking on it. Typing the string into your browser rather than clicking is one way to minimize risk. In many mail clients, when you mouse over a link, it displays the actual web address of the destination. If the displayed address and the link text don't match, assume that the sender is up to no good.

Confirm the security of any Internet browser before using it for transactions done over your smartphone. And, be sure to clear your browser cache so nobody can track what bank or other firms you do business with.

Use a passcode. Most people fail to do so. If you should lose or misplace your phone, anyone can steal your data if it's not protected by this simple passcode or PIN device.

And lest we forget . . . never store passwords on your phone.

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