Think back ten years ago and try to remember what kind of mobile device you were carrying. Calling it a “device” may even be a stretch because, more than likely, your device was a phone that made calls and did little more. You may have had a WAP web browser and texted using your phone keypad, but your phone was primarily for making and receiving calls. Now we carry devices/phones that are dramatically more powerful and capable, sometimes even taking the place of PCs for working on the road. Along with this increased capacity comes safety and security risks – both personal and professional – that need to be considered.
Whether you carry an aging smartphone or a brand-new Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III, Nokia Lumia 900, or similar, you can be exposing yourself or your business data to theft if you’re not careful. The New York Police Department recently revealed that thefts involving Apple products have increased 40% over the same period last year, resulting in a 4% increase in overall crime. But there are things you can do to protect your personal property and the business and personal data you carry on your smart devices.
Here are some suggestions to improve your mobile safety and security, and possibly even your personal safety.
- Be aware of your surroundings and use common sense. Don’t use your mobile device to check the time when a stranger asks at night. Don’t use your mobile device near a subway, bus, etc. exit. Treat your mobile device as you would your wallet.
- Use security software that can help locate your mobile device if it is stolen. Apple provides Find My iPhone as a free service to all iCloud users, and this can also be used for iPads and iPod Touch devices. A well-respected solution for Android users is Lookout Mobile Security.
- Protect your mobile device with a access code of some kind – password, passcode, or PIN. This simple measure can protect your personal and business data in the event of theft. We recommend the use of longer passwords or passcodes over a simple PIN for increased security. Taking it a step further, most mobile operating systems allow you to wipe your device if an access code is incorrectly entered a certain number of times.
- Use encryption on your mobile device, if possible. Be aware that encryption can have a slight impact on battery life due to the process of encrypting/decrypting your data. iOS, Android, and the upcoming Windows Phone 8 (but, sadly, not Windows Phone 7) all support device encyption.
- In a business, enforce mobile device policies. All of the major mobile operating systems provide tools for centralized device management and security policy enforcement, and many third-party value-add tools exist as well. Such tools allow businesses to enforce device access code usage and complexity, remotely and securely wipe lost or stolen devices, and enforce device encryption, among many other settings.
From the standpoint of personal safety, texting while driving is getting a lot of attention. Many States have enacted laws prohibiting texting while driving. Distractions while driving – texting or otherwise – are a danger. The government site distraction.gov reports that ‘In 2010, 3,092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated additional 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.” The mobile carriers are starting campaigns or using technology against texting while driving; AT&T started the “It Can Wait” campaign, Sprint has “Focus on Driving,” and Verizon is conducting a “Don’t Text and Drive Pledge” in Ohio high schools. Sixth-grader Victoria Walker was recently awarded $20,000.00 by AT&T to bring to market a mobile app she designed called “Rode Dog,” designed to bark at your to warn you against texting while driving.
The bottom line is that your personal safety is far more important that your mobile device usage. Don’t text while driving. Be smart about when, where, and how you use your device. Protect yourself and your information.
Do you have questions about how to secure your mobile device? Do you want to use tools to enforce security policies across your business mobile devices? Contact us at (888) 600-4560, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or see us on Facebook or Twitter (@coldenco) if you want to use your devices safely and securely.