It’s another new year and there are more predictions that this year will see a rise in smartphone attacks. There are hundreds of millions of smartphones in the world and we are using them more as computers than phones today. Since we are accessing our bank accounts, the internet, and shopping sites why would the bad guys not want to get at your smartphone?
In research performed by Juniper Networks, 300 million smartphones will be equipped with near-field communication (NFC) chips this year. These chips allow for mobile payments to be done at stores and vending machines. It seems like the next step in commerce. But could the bad guys get at your phone by just being close? It is a scary idea, isn’t it? We can only hope that the application developers get their security right.
How about viruses? Won’t that be the way the bad guys get us? Well, maybe… Android phones have seen some malware and Windows phones are, well, Windows. iPhones represent a dichotomy. Apple likes to keep control over the apps that you can load and keep them from talking to each other completely. While that makes the malware harder to design, it also makes the anti-malware software harder to design as well.
But with all the high-tech ways the bad guys can get to your phone, none hold a candle to the simple grab and run. So the good news is that your highest risk is your easiest to defend.
Let’s discuss the easy ways to defend your phone. First the obvious, don’t leave it lying around. I know that sounds like a really stupid comment but I am amazed at the number of people I see at airports, restaurants, malls, the library, etc. with their phone siting on the seat beside them or on a table. A quick distraction and someone owns your phone. Even easier, you can forget or lose your phone.
All is not lost; you have a password on your phone. Or do you? Apple will let you set your phone to lock after a set amount of time. You can then set the pass word to a 4 digit code or a more complex password. You can also set it to wipe your phone clean after 10 wrong passwords. That should protect it pretty good.
The other important piece of data on your phone is email. If you are connected to a corporate email system, they can likely delete the emails from your computer. But you have to let them know, immediately! And by the way, you need to let your phone company know as well.
By the way, there is always the Find my iPhone function on the iPhone. That could help locate it and if you have saved your information to the cloud, you will still be able to get your photos back.
Use some common sense and keep an eye on your phone. Protect your phone with a password, put strong passwords on any application on your phone that access your bank account, Amazon, or any other application with information you need to protect.
Hopefully the researchers will be wrong and our smartphones can stay the wondrous little “Make-Me-Look-Smart” device we love. But it is likely only time until we are fighting malware and ransom-ware on our phones. Until then, be smart and take a few precautions to keep your phone protected.