Security precautions for your smartphonePublished 10:28am Tuesday, September 27, 2011
By WAYNE CURTIS / Guest Columnist
Smartphones are spreading like a raging wildfire. By the end of this year, estimates are that half of the American people will be using them to access the Internet, run different applications and make phone calls.
But there is a potential downside to using these versatile and convenient devices. As they have become more useful, they are becoming the targets for hackers. Simply clicking on an email link that contains a malicious code can spread viruses on your phone.
To prevent hacking, you can take several commonsense precautions. First, change your passwords frequently, using different passwords for different accounts.
Use care when establishing passwords. They should be difficult for someone else to guess, yet easy for you to remember.
Be especially careful when using your smartphone for banking activities. Like millions of other people, you may use your phone to access your accounts, transfer money among different accounts or deposit checks using a scanner.
Many banks have recognized the security issues involved and have introduced their own apps for mobile users. They run independently of browsers and have the required safety protocols in place.
Remember, if you use your smartphone in a public facility with Internet capabilities, you should assume the hookup is not secure. Other people may be able to access any data you see or retrieve.
Be wary of emails from someone you do not know, and use caution when opening attachments.
Finally, you should think of your smartphone as a computer. That is essentially what it is.
The line between smartphones and computers has virtually disappeared. In fact, your current smartphone is probably more powerful than your desktop computer was a decade ago.
There have been reports of viruses that infect computers spreading to smartphones, but it is not known how widespread this is. To err on the side of caution, you might want to consider an antivirus program for your phone.
Wayne Curtis, Ph.D., is on the board of directors of First United Security Bank. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.