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Resource Center

Resource Center

Mobile Security

Americans increasingly depend on mobile devices and accord them more trust than they sometimes deserve.  A smart phone scam can cost plenty of money, time and anxiety.   Remember that the device in your pocket or purse is really a small computer and should be protected in the same way.  Here are 12 important tips from security experts that will help you keep your private information private.

  1. Don't fall victim to social engineering. Americans love our phones and we overly trust these chunks of plastic and metal. Be wary of any links you receive in email or texts even if they are from people you know. Even more important, don't respond to or click on anything in texts or emails from strangers. They will try to entice you with free restaurant gift offers, discount coupons to major retailers and thoughtful offers to track your missing package. Don't fall for them. The criminals are using your desire for a "deal" to gain access to other data on your phone.
  2. Always secure your phone with a password. We know it's annoying to type or finger swipe every single time but this is the most basic security tip out there. Special note to those using finger swipe patterns - keep your screen clean. Greasy fingerprints can reveal too much.
  3. Ensure that your phone locks itself automatically when it has been inactive for a period of time. Choose the shortest time you can live with. Two to five minutes is much safer than ten to thirty.
  4. Only download apps from approved sources. The Google Play Store and Apple's App Store take security seriously. Use them exclusively.
  5. Don't jailbreak your device. This term refers to the practice of breaking the limitations imposed on it by your carrier. Consumers do this so they can use their phone with other carriers, install cool third party apps or customize their phone's appearance. This action voids all warranties and can leave you significantly more exposed to fraudsters.
  6. Consider installing security software, particularly on Android devices.
  7. Check the automatic permissions on your apps. There's no reason a calculator app needs to know your location. Neither does an alarm clock app need access to your contact list. Take a few minutes to explore and perhaps make some manual resets.
  8. Don't miss operating system updates. These updates often contain system vulnerability patches. When your phone or tablet alerts you to an updated operating system, install it as soon as possible. Even better, set your device for automatic updates.
  9. Turn off your automatic Wi-Fi connection. Continually probing for wireless networks 'leaks' away information about your identity and location.
  10. Be aware of the coffee shop problem. When you use a public Wi-Fi network in an airport, restaurant or similar location, pay close attention to the network you choose. That pleasant looking guy or gal at the next table could have set up a similar-sounding, fraudulent network. Should you accidentally login to that one, you have given them access into your device.  In fact, it is a good idea to avoid accessing personal information whenever you're on a Wi-Fi network owned by others. Yes, check the sports scores. But don't look up your checking account balance.
  11. Turn off Bluetooth when not in use. Never accept a pairing request from an unknown device.
  12. Enroll your phone in Find my Phone or an equivalent service.

 

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