Despite the intoxicating power of technology, the underlying problem is always a human problem. Don’t waste energy trying to fix the gadget – that’s someone else’s responsibility.
Denver, CO (PRWEB) March 7, 2011
Smartphones are quickly becoming the fashionable (and simplest) way for thieves to steal private data. Case in point: Google was recently forced to remove 21 popular Android apps from it’s official application website, Android Market, because the applications were built to look like useful software but acted like electronic wiretaps. At first glance, apps like Chess appear to be legitimate, but when installed, turn into a data-hijacking machine that siphons private information back to the developer.
In response to this new threat facing iPhone, BlackBerry, Droid and Windows Phone users, identity theft expert John Sileo has just released "The Smartphone Survival Guide: 10 Critical Security Tips in 10 Minutes."
“Once you download a Trojan app” says Sileo, “the thief has more control over your phone than you do. Your privacy is an open book… your identity, contact list, files, emails, texts, passwords… all of it. This doesn't just threaten the individual phone owner, it threatens the organizations they work in and the data they handle every day."
At the heart of the problem is the breathtaking convenience and efficiency provided by mobile phones that have become “Smart” because they also function as computers, books, GPS devices, payment systems, web browsers, radios, iPods and so much more. Unfortunately, blinded by the thrill and functionality of the latest app, users rarely take the time to vet the software that can be installed in seconds, from anywhere.
“There are no significant barriers to entry, for either us OR the thieves,” says Sileo of the app-based model of acquiring new software. “You can read about an app on a web page, download it and be using it in under a minute. And you probably didn’t even have to pay for it… at least with cash.” You’re paying dearly, Sileo maintains, by trading away private information, surfing habits, bank account numbers or company financials.
The Smartphone Survival Guide outlines the major threats posed by mobile phones with internet access and gives a range of solutions for drastically lowering risk. Sileo points out that most data stolen off of Smartphones isn't just a technology problem:
“Despite the intoxicating power of technology, the underlying problem is always a human problem. Don’t waste energy trying to fix the gadget – that’s someone else’s responsibility. Focus on the behaviors that allow employees to maintain a healthy balance between productivity and security. Deliberate, focused training has the highest ROI, not obsessing over the latest data leakage.”
The Smartphone Survival Guide describes a range of solutions in a quick and accessible fashion, such as:
- Turn on auto-lock password protection and corresponding encryption.
- Enable remote tracking and remote wipe capabilities in case the phone is lost or stolen.
- Minimize app spying with security software and smart habits.
- Customize geo-location and application privacy permissions.
- Be wary of free apps – users are almost always paying with private data.
- Before downloading an app, ask a few questions: How long has the app been available – long enough for someone else to detect a problem? Is the publisher of the app reputable? Have they produced other successful smartphone applications, or is this their first? Has the app been reviewed by a reputable tech journal?
Smartphones and the data on them are obviously at risk, but it remains to be seen whether users will alter their behavior before it’s too late. If not, it will be but one more example of human choices leading to technological data hijacking.
John Sileo is the President of The Sileo Group and the award winning author of four books, including his latest workbook, The Smartphone Survival Guide (http://www.thinklikeaspy.com/store/smartphone-survival-guide/). He speaks around the world on identity theft, online reputation and influence. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and Homeland Security. Learn more at http://www.ThinkLikeASpy.com.