Last week, Con Mallon, a regional director of online security experts Norton gave the latest warning that consumers must, “basically start to take security seriously on their smartphones and on tablets“. Mallon admitted that the threat was small in “absolute numbers”. No kidding.
About 163 mobile vulnerabilities have uncovered in the past year. Compare that to 6,500 reported violations of Microsoft’s Windows system and Apple’s iOS.
Still, he persevered, smartphone security threats are on the up and up and homeworkers should consider themselves particularly vulnerable. But the biggest threat for, by definition, highly portable smartphones is still just being lost or stolen by opportunistic thieves from a pocket or open bag.
How to Protect Your Smartphone From Virus Attacks?
So how do you secure your smartphone against those two threats: malware and malice aforethought?
1. Set A Password
Yes, it’s annoying to have to constantly sign in but, particularly if you’re often out and about with your phone, setting a password is smartphone kindergarten stuff.
iPhone passwords up to iOS 3 have a PIN number-style four digit password while iOS 4 and higher users can set a, more secure, full password.
Windows 7 phones also allow users to set traditional letters and digits passwords to lock the screen. That means that, unusually, the password is set from within the Lock option inside the settings menu. Some Android phones have additional security in the form of a swipe pattern rather than a password.
There’s good and bad to that: in one way it should be easier to remember since it’s pretty intuitive but, on the other hand, there’s a risk that it’s so new you’ll end up setting the swipe equivalent of ’12345′.
Still, it’s better than nothing – look for ‘Change Unlock Pattern‘ or similar in the settings menu. Notes that even if your phone isn’t covered above it will still have some sort of password facility. Take a look in the security section of your settings menu or the technical manual.
2. Encrypt Personal Data
Even with a password set up, we’re far more willing to walk around with important data on our smartphones then we would be to have them written down and on our person.
Prevent malware and thieves from gaining easy access to important information by encrypting and backing up to webspace or just thinking twice before storing it there.
If you regularly connect to unsecured, unknown wi-fi networks while you’re out and about you may also want to consider treating your smartphone as you would a shared computer and not save passwords.
3. Get Wise To Remote Wiping
Even after taking the precautions listed above, our phones are now such an extension of our lives that knowing how to wipe personal data or lock the device down is fast becoming invaluable.
Newer HTC phones are particularly good for this. With an online account set up, the data on the phone can be wiped remotely and, if it’s just lost, users can even call it really loud to find it.
iPhone users that pay for the MobileMe account can also wipe their phone remotely, although they’ll need to enable push and Find My iPhone.
Android users have fewer built-in wipe options. Many download the free Mobile Defense app which means they can later wipe the phone from the Mobile Defense site, just as with MobileMe and HTC.
4. Consider Mobile Security
If you’re using a smartphone for business, in particular, it may be time to think about mobile security. Specialist software from firms like Kaspersky can run a full, real-time check on apps, downloads and attachments received through email or instant messaging for threats.
WaveSecure from McAfee – which works with Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Symbian and Android smartphones – scans online activity just as a PC security programme would.
It can also lock and wipe data from a stolen smartphone. Cleverly, locking means a message informing whoever finds the phone of its owner and how to get in touch stays on the screen permanently.