July 11, 2017

Smartphone Security: Why Password Protection Will Never be Enough

A password lock on your smartphone is one way to protect your confidential information from criminals. But it shouldn’t be the only way.

Better smartphone security is crucial because information thieves are increasingly targeting these devices. Around half a million smartphones were stolen in the UK last year alone.

As a story in Wired.com suggested, anyone armed with a current model smartphone can handle almost all of their at-home – and even at-work – tasks. 

While strong password protocols will help protect confidential information, here are 7 crucial safeguards that reduce mobile phone security risks: 
  •  Mobile Work: Transferring and accessing confidential information outside the office increases the risk of a data breach. Safeguards: Install smartphones with antivirus software and keep it, the operating system, and other safeguarding software updated and patched. Also, encrypt stored data and every transaction. 
  • Theft: A smartphone that is left unattended in public, in the office, or even visible in a car can be easily stolen. Safeguards: Never leave your phone unattended anywhere. In the workplace, implement a Clean Desk Policy. Lock up mobile devices or hide them in a drawer if you leave your desk. Find out if the phone has a remote kill switch security feature and turn it on – it allows you to disable the phone when it is stolen.
  • Distractions: Have you ever left your phone somewhere by accident? Safeguards: Install a proximity alarm system that sends an alert when the phone is at a pre-set distance limit. The phone should also automatically lock after a period of inactivity.
  • Phishing: Phishing is a leading way cyber criminals steal data. Also, a 2016 Kaspersky Lab report showed a four-fold increase in ransomware attacks. Ransomware will display a popup message or lock the screen until a ransom is paid. Safeguards:  The workplace should provide ongoing training about phishing emails and texts. Never respond to ‘urgent’ requests that try to lure you to click on unknown links and websites. Back up contents regularly.
  • Insecure Networks: Public Wi-Fi networks pose a threat. Safeguards: Do not send or access confidential data when using Wi-Fi. If you must, use a virtual private network (VPN), which will encrypt your internet connection and hide the IP.
  • Infected Apps: According to Gartner, 75% of mobile security breaches in 2017 will be caused by mobile application misconfigurations. Safeguards:  Download apps from trusted sources only.
  • Improper Disposal: Upgrading to a new smartphone? Safeguards: Do not give away or recycle a smartphone that has been used to transmit confidential information. Physical destruction is recommended to protect information.
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