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Importance of Mobile Security – Best Apps to Help You Achieve It

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By the end of 2013, the number of people who will have bought an internet ready smartphone this year will have reached a giddy 2 billion according to accounting firm Deloitte, while in the UK it is predicted that three quarters of mobile users will be using a smartphone by 2016.

In the mad rush forward in both the technological capabilities of handheld devices and the consumer hunger for the newest developments and latest products, serious gaps in the security of these smartphones have begun to open up.

Slowly over the last few years, a number of frightening stories have begun creeping into the press and the Internet concerning the potential vulnerabilities. First came a widely reported presentation by Ralf-Philipp Weinmann that showed how hackers could enable your smartphone to allow them to know your location, record conversations and take photos without your knowledge, followed by reports of how other trendy innovations, such as motion sensors, could be exploited by hackers.

So how much of a problem is this and what measures can we take to protect ourselves?

The Growing Importance of Mobile Security
It is perhaps strange that many people seem to consider smartphones intrinsically safer to surf the Internet than personal computers. While it is rare that a person will not have some form of anti-virus or malware software on their PC, most smartphone users don’t seem to have given mobile security much of a thought.

It is however an important thing to consider and it is only likely to get more important as time grinds on and smartphone usage continues to grow. There are three main areas in which your smartphone could become compromised:

SMS spam

This is perhaps the largest growing area of smartphone insecurity, and works in basically the same way that email spam does. The user receives an unsolicited text message that urges them to give personal information or to click on dodgy links.

SMS Trojans
SMS spam is often a vehicle for the distribution of SMS Trojans onto a user’s phone. These mobile malwares are often embedded in downloadable apps and once unleashed they begin sending premium rate texts, signing you up to services and other things of that nature.

Theft
Good old-fashioned theft still plays a large part in smartphone insecurity. Smartphones are attractive targets for theft because they are powerful little computers because of all the lucrative personal and business information that may be on there. Using the right technology all of the data on your phone can be copied in 20 minutes and the handset discarded.

Steps You Can Take Right Now
If I have worried you by highlighting the danger of something you perhaps hadn’t given much thought to then I apologise and offer you some actions you can take right now as recompense.

– If you are going to be storing sensitive files on the phone’s internal storage then make sure you encrypt the data and enable any remote-find or remote-wipe features that you have
– You definitely shouldn’t ‘hack’ or ‘jailbreak’ your phone — and don’t download apps from pirate sites
– Make a note of and keep an eye on the permissions that each new app requires (be especially cautious of those that claim to need access to your SMS)
– Utilise a security code for your smartphone as well as your SIM and always have the auto-lock feature on
– You should see if your phone has a remote wipe option

Some of the Best Free Mobile Security Apps
As well as taking the above steps and being more vigilant with what you do with and how you act with your smartphone, there are also a number of free apps that you can download right now (from legitimate sites of course) to help keep you safe.

Here are some of the best on offer:

AVG Anti-Virus
In exactly the same way as its more established desktop cousin, AVG for android smartphones will act to protect you and your phone in real-time as well as allowing you to scan content, back up their data and locate their handset if lost.

Webroot Mobile Security Basic
This app is a great resource that can not only block and remove any dangerous apps and pieces of software, but can also be used to block any unwanted SMS messages and calls.

Bitdefender Mobile Security
This security app has many of the same basic features of apps like AVG in that it can be used to scan for malware, but it also allows you to view which of your applications has permission to perform which actions (such as access the internet, your messages or your personal data).

Avast! Mobile Security
This Android only app has a number of innovative features on top of the usual malware and anti-virus measures. If your phone is stolen you can locate it, wipe it, set off an alarm or receive a notification of any changes that are made to the SIM. Interestingly, you can also change the names of different apps to confuse anyone who does get into your phone.

There are many more potential apps out there designed to protect you and your app, and while you may have to pay to get the absolutely comprehensive cover you desire these freebies will allow you to catch your breath and feel reassured for now.

Does anyone else have any useful hints tips, or apps for those of us that are looking to increase our mobile security?

Phones Review would like to thank Gavin Harvey, who writes for ID Pro who specialise in a range of security equipment including ID card printers.

Image by: RahiDelvi

Comments

One thought on “Importance of Mobile Security – Best Apps to Help You Achieve It”

  1. Reply
    David Kinlay says:

    A lot of people are not aware of the potential problems with not protecting their smartphones! A lot of malware around!

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