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February 2, 2011

Is a smartphone a secure phone?


According to Patrick Peterson, Senior Security Researcher at Cisco, smartphone and mobile software attacks are set to increase in 2011.

It would appear that those plucky cyber criminals are starting to move away from bringing down Windows, and turning their attention to other technologies. Cisco has seen increasing numbers of criminal groups looking to focus on targeting mobiles and the best way to attack portable gadgets.

The evidence has been seen in a number of localised and targeted phishing scams sent to mobiles to trick users into handing over passwords and other personal content.

Sounds bad doesn’t it? But there’s actually not a lot to worry about if you take a common-sense approach to protecting your most valuable asset – you – and follow these trusty tips to keep your smartphone secure.

Think before you speak
Consider who is calling or texting you before you answer any unknown numbers. Often phishing scams are started through mobile phone calls or texts. If you don’t recognise it, don’t answer it.

Always log out
When you’re finished using a web application or service, log out. Don’t keep the channel open for others to monitor your data.

Trust your sources
Consider where you purchase and download your apps from. The Ovi Store is clearly a great place to go, but beware of 3rd-party apps that ask for lots of permissions.

Clean and tidy
Get rid of the unused apps on your phone. Some apps can monitor and access various types of data, including your contact list. And set a pin for your phone’s SIM card, so if your mobile phone is ever lost, nobody can use the card. TOP TIP: Don’t go for ‘0000’ or ‘1234’.

Bluetooth blues
Bluetooth can be great but it can also be compromised and your personal data can be accessed or corrupted. If you do use Bluetooth, protect the connection with a longer, more secure password instead of a short PIN.

Where to Wi-Fi?
Surprisingly, it’s easy for hackers to eavesdrop or spoof a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Hackers also know that many people use the same password across many websites – from email to banking to Facebook. So next time you’re in Coffeebucks, think about what you’re sharing. Or consider using a 3G or 4G connection if you can.

Dodge the dodgy
Visiting a website with an out-dated smartphone browser can leave you exposed to vulnerabilities. If you don’t feel comfortable using it, close it. And always take smartphone security updates seriously – they’re there to help.

We know that some of these tips won’t be anything new to you, but we like to make sure that you’re fully prepared to not take the bait of the bad guys. A smartphone can be perfectly secure if you use it with the same caution you’d use with your PC or laptop.

Do you have any top tips of your own to share? Have you ever suffered at the hands of a phishing scam? We’d like to hear from you.

In the meantime, be safe…