Smartphone Security: Today and Tomorrow

With the smartphone industry growing larger every day, there is a growing concern for the security of data on said mobile devices. The power of these devices is always increasing, as is the amount of software that can be installed on them. With the advent of these different types of software, including financial software and personal identification software, the need for more security is a must. Most of these types of devices come with some type of security built-in, but is this really enough for today’s world?

For most people nowadays, their whole life is on their smartphone. It includes a plethora of personal information and data, such as:

 

  • personal/work documents, notes, pictures, and emails that can contain sensitive information
  • full access to Wi-Fi networks that you connect to at work or at home
  • calendar appointments and contacts
  • access to various sites/information through apps, such as social networking apps, bill paying apps, movie apps, shopping apps, and etcetera

 

With all this information on our smartphones, it makes it a goldmine for potential thieves. The risk of your phone being lost, stolen, or even being rummaged through by your IT guy is only the half of the security problem with them. Smartphones can also leak other kinds of data through sniffing of your internet traffic when connected to open Wi-Fi networks. Your passwords to unencrypted websites and services, such as Facebook, Twitter, web-based e-mail sites, POP3 e-mail services, etcetera could be easily be sniffed by someone else on the network. There is also the issue of viruses, malware, SMS/MMS exploits, and Bluetooth exploits; these exploits can manipulate your phone settings and prevent you from using certain features, send information to or call contacts in your phone, steal and/or destroy personal information on your phone, or render your phone completely unusable.

Though the biggest concerns for now should be more focused on protecting your phone from theft or loss or sniffing over Wi-Fi, the issues of malicious software and hacking are becoming more and more prevalent every day. These issues could become more of a concern in the not so distant future due to the lack of integrated active security systems, such as firewalls, anti-virus programs, and anti-malware programs into our phones.

To set a bit of background for the importance of securing your mobile phone, Juniper Networks conducted a study of more than 6,000 smartphone and tablet users in 16 countries about mobile security threats. They found the following:

 

  • 250% increase in the amount of mobile malware over the past year
  • a Fortune 15 company discovered that 1,250 of its 25,000 devices were infected with malware oppo a53
  • 44% of respondents to the survey use their devices for both business and personal use
  • 80% admit to using their devices to access their work network without the employer’s knowledge or permission
  • one out of every twenty apps in the Android marketplace requests permissions that could allow the app to place a call without the user knowing
  • nine of ten mobile devices have little or no security protection
  • more than 60% of reported smartphone infections are spyware and 17% are text message trojans that can rack up fees that are charged to the device owner’s account

 

As clearly evidenced by Juniper’s findings, there is an inherent need for more mobile phone security. Fortunately, there are several options to help secure your phone that are built-in to the operating system and several third-party programs as well. Even the most basic of security measures can help you protect your personal information. To begin, we will start with some of the simpler defense mechanisms.

 

 

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