Mobile phones are a world away in terms of capabilities to what they were 10 years ago. Research from Doilette has found that 72% of people in the UK now own a smartphone device. This has seen a widening in the capabilities of mobile phones from internet banking, shopping, and being your main social media hub. There is no doubt that this gives conveniences which we didn’t have before, yet these 21st century amenities are exposing us to a new kind of identity fraud, theft, and lack of privacy. Even when you believe your phone to be secure in a safe place it could be targeted. In the past, figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the overwhelming majority of phone thefts were categorised as ‘Theft from a motor vehicle’ – something that can be combatted using a small portable safe in the car.
Across the world, there are now nearly two billion internet users and over five billion mobile phone connections; every day, we send 294 billion emails and five billion SMS messages; every minute, we post 35 hours of video to YouTube, 3,000 photos to Flickr and nearly 35,000 tweets – Pingdom.com
In 2011, German Green party politician Malte Spitz sued his telephone company (Deutsch Telekom) in order to receive 6 months’ worth of his personal data stored by the company. He gave this information to German publication Zeit Online to process for him. From this Zeit were able to create a walkthrough of his entire last 6 months just from using the data on his phone. You can view all of Malte Spitz’s movements in the link below.
Considering all the personal information evidently available on your phone, it’s probably about time that you properly protected it. However, mobile phone technology is constantly changing as well as the methods being used to target mobile phone users. So we asked two top technology and personal information security experts to keep you up to date with the 6 best ways to protect yourself and your phone…
Lock your phone with a password
A strong password should be the first port of call for securing your smartphone – If there is no password to compete with and your phone falls into the wrong hands, all your data and information is immediately available to anyone. According to OFCOM 15% of all smartphones in the UK aren’t password protected – additionally 10% of people who owned iPhones, were shown to have 4-digit passwords of either ‘1234’ or ‘0000’, making them vulnerable to data theft.
Make sure that your device locks automatically
Following on from securing your phone with a password, it is important that you have the settings set so the phone locks within a short period of time. If your phone isn’t set to lock automatically within 10 minutes of misplacing your phone, an unlocking password isn’t even going to get the chance to deter anyone if picked up within those 10 minutes. It’s therefore advisable to have an automatic lock of your phone of 1 minute or lower.
Be cautious of links you receive via email or text
Simply clicking on a link sent to your phone through an email or text could be enough to allow unwanted items onto your phone – known as ‘SmiShing’ (or SMS phishing). This makes use of scammy text messages to infect your device or steal your data. Avoid this by being aware of whether you know the sender of the message and whether there are potentially threatening links in the message.
Turn off automatic Wi-Fi connection
For a lot us it is a force of habit – leaving the Wi-Fi setting set to automatically discover when leaving your home. However, this leaves your phone open to potential threats while it is looking for a Wi-Fi to connect to. The act of doing this from your phone can broadcast information of your phones preferred Wi-Fi network which in turn can be imitated to create a malicious wireless router that appears the same as your home network
Turn off Bluetooth when not in use
Much like Wi-Fi, we also tend to leave our mobile phones Bluetooth setting on, regularly leaving it active while roaming around. However this is another route that can be used to access personal information stored on your phone. Ensure that this isn’t a way in for hackers by turning your Bluetooth off when you’re not using it.
Be careful of theft in public places
Following on from securing your phone with a password, it is important for you to have the settings set so the phone locks within a short period of time. If your phone isn’t set to lock automatically within 10 minutes of misplacing your phone, an unlocking password isn’t even going to get the chance to deter anyone if picked up within those 10 minutes. It’s therefore advisable to have an automatic lock of your phone of 1 minute or lower.
It’s really important that you’re aware of what people are capable of accessing from your mobile phone, and even more fundamentally that it’s kept secure when not in use. Keeping the phone (as well as other valuables) in a safe at home can help to protect your phones from falling into the wrong hands.