If they didn’t make the darn things so convenient, quick, and cool we would be so addicted to them! You can do everything with your smart phones now: Check your bank account, trade stocks and, coming soon, you'll be able to tap into services like Google Wallet that will allow you to make a purchase with the tap of your phone. Lookout Mobile Security says 28% of mobile apps are downloaded for banking and finance and 40% of people enter at least one password a day on their phone.
Thieves and bad guys are also just as excited about all these advances in technology; they can’t wait to try to swipe your banking passwords, your credit card numbers and other personal info you enter on your phone. That could cost you big bucks andcause a big mess that's a huge pain to clean up.
The smart people at Lookout says there’s actually five excruciatingly easy steps you can take to secure your top secret smart phone info from cell phone privacy pirates.
- Plug up the leaky apps. It’s tough to tell the difference between a good and bad app. Since there are a lot of new people creating mobile apps, sometimes we see unsophisticated apps that could seriously compromise a person’s online privacy through bad privacy practices or careless code. Only download applications from sites you trust (the Android Market, Amazon, Getjar, etc.), and only after checking each apps’ rating and reading the user reviews to make sure it is widely used and respected.
- Set a password on your phone. Without a password, anyone within an arm’s length can swipe your phone and start reading your email, text messages or listen to your voicemail messages. Setting a password is the first line of defense, and only takes about 30 seconds to do! To set a password, navigate to security settings and follow the directions on the phone.
- Watch for shady links. People are three times more likely to click on a suspicious link from their phone than their PC, according to a recent study. Due to the small size of the screen, it is harder to decipher whether a site looks legitimate or not. Be wary of suspicious-looking links sent to you in email, SMS or on social networking sites; entering your personal information on some sites (called phishing sites) puts you at risk for fraud or identity theft. If you don’t know how to tell a good link from a bad one, there are free mobile security apps that can check them out for you.
- Be careful what you do at unsecured WiFi hotspots. Use caution when checking your email on public WiFi (for example, at a local coffee shop). These wireless hotspots transmit your data over-the-air, so when you enter your password or credit card details while using one of these wireless networks, you run the risk of someone else seeing your sensitive information! Avoid accessing password protected sites and limit your web browsing to window shopping – don’t enter your payment information, no matter how good the sale is! - unless you are on a secure wireless network at home.
- Keep spyware from watching you. Spyware might sound like something out of a detective story, but it’s much more like something out of a horror story if you end up with it on your phone. Without a password people can (and do) download spyware onto your phone and track your phone usage, text messages, location and banking activity, among other things, without your knowledge. In the Android Market or iTunes store, search for ‘mobile security,’ and download a free app that will stop you from inadvertently downloading viruses onto your device, before you do it.