Smartphones are becoming cleverer by the day. I use mine as an address book … to read books … listen to music … search the internet … look at emails … find my husband … use social media … keep track of the news … take pictures … and so much more. I even use it to make and receive calls and texts.
But from a security point of view, smartphones can be leaky, and increasingly it’s down to the user rather than the provider to take responsibility for their own protection. Here is some simple guidance and some references for those who’d like more information:
Smartphones – as important as your wallet and credit / debit cards
Ofcom advises that you treat your smartphone as carefully as your wallet or a bank card, and that’s excellent advice. Losing your smartphone is inconvenient at best and a disaster at worst. There’s the potential expense of any charges that a thief might run up before you report it as lost. And, unless it’s insured, the cost of replacing a smartphone can be horribly expensive.
Not only that, but any confidential information is at risk – your contacts, your emails, even your bank account. And it’s no longer just your own data at risk. If you use your smartphone for business, losing it may have potentially serious implications for you and your company in the event of a data breach.
What to do before you lose your smartphone
- Set and use a pin or password both on your phone and your SIM for secure access
- Make sure you know your IMEI number – if you haven’t already done so, just type *#06# into your handset and it should flash up. If not, look behind your phone battery and you’ll find it there. Make a note of it and keep it somewhere safe.
- Have a look at Immobilisewhere you can register your phone and may then stand some chance of being reunited with it in the event of loss or theft. All UK police forces and various other lost property offices and agencies use it as an online database to trace owners of lost and stolen property.
- If you are registered with Immobilise, mark your phone as being registered – it just may help deter opportunistic theft
- Download an app such as findmyiphone or findmyphone. Not only will this help you trace your phone if it is lost or stolen, but it will also allow you to wipe details from it remotely to allow you at least to minimise theft of your data.
How to keep your data safe
- In the same way that you’d keep your computer data backed up, you should do the same for your smartphone – keep it backed up, either in the cloud or on some other device. That way you stand to lose the minimum amount of data.
- Keep up-to-date with your operating system – accept updates as they become available as they will include any fixes to security vulnerabilities within the previous software.
- Use antivirus software to protect your phone from attack by virus or spyware. I use Lookout, but there are various other excellent options.
- Make sure your apps are only downloaded from trusted sources. Check them out before you download them – read the reviews and check their privacy policies.
- Keep you apps updated when updates are offered.
- Bear in mind that a rogue app may allow access and control rights to a hacker who can then make calls, download content, send or intercept messages using your phone without your knowledge. You also run the risk that your smartphone becomes the entry point to other devices to which it may be connected.
- Check the permissions you grant when you download an app – for example, it may request to use your current location, or to access your photos etc. Make sure that you only provide the data that you require the apps to have, and ideally only provide the information the app needs in order to work.
What to do if you lose your smartphone
- If you lose your phone, contact your provider and (if you are insured) your insurer immediately.
- Get your phone blocked – to do this you’ll need to give your provider your phone’s IMEI number, make and model number.
What to do when you get rid of your phone
Before disposing of your smartphone, make sure that you:
- Erase any apps
- Erase any data held on it, including media cards
- Then go into your Settings menu and reset to Factory settings
Above all, smartphones should be treated as the valuable assets they really are, and kept safe to protect both personal and company assets data and assets.
If you have any concerns about your data security in general or your smartphone security specifically, contact us on 01787 277742. Or email email@example.com
Thanks Victoria for some excellent information and sound advice