Information Security (smartphones, tablets and mobile devices)

When we first started using mobile phones
we made calls, sent texts and not much else. Smartphones and tablets can do so much more,
but to do this they need to store and use a lot of information about us. This information
can be an absolute gold mine for criminals. So this is what you need to know about…
information security for mobile devices. How do criminals access our information? Well,
there are three main ways. The first is by hacking into the device and extracting the
information remotely, the second is by fooling us into giving up the information, and the
third is by stealing the device itself. Let’s look at these in more detail. Criminals can infect mobile devices with malware — malicious software – just as they do with computers. And malware can do all sorts of
things. It can take over your contacts list and send everyone emails, make your phone
ring a premium rate number without you knowing, or capture what you tap onto your keypad and
then send this to the hackers. Smartphones and tablets will often have some
form of protection already installed to prevent this. And you can also use a third party product,
but whichever you choose, make sure it’s updated regulary. And when you install an app, use a trusted
site as criminals can get malware onto our devices by hiding it in apps. Here’s one way they do it. They take a popular
app, implant the malware, then make the app available, usually for free, on a website. If you download the app and install it, you’ll
install the malware too. Criminals are always on the look out for any
weaknesses they can exploit, and sometimes these are found in operating systems. You
may have heard of Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone and Apple’s iOS. When software companies become aware of security risks, they’ll issue updates or fixes. So keeping your device up-to-date with these will make it harder for criminals to take advantage. Sometimes an operating system blocks users
from doing certain things. A common one is when a phone is set that it only works with
one network operator, or a tablet may only be able to install certain apps. People have
found ways to get round this for example a phone can be cracked so that it can work with
any network or jailbroken so you can install different software. When this is done, it
can create a door for hackers to get in and steal information or infect the device with
malware. So malicious software is one thing to look
out for, and another is what’s known as phishing. This usually starts with a spam email maybe
with an attatchment which, if you open it will try and install malware on your device,
or there might be a link to a bogus website. These websites are often set to download malware onto your device, or ask you to enter personal details. So before entering information about yourself,
make sure you check the website. Is the web address different from the real
one? Sometimes this is obvious, but criminals can create ones which are very close to the
real thing. Is it an H-T-T-P-S address – the ‘S’ means
it’s a secure session – and there will also be a padlock symbol in the address bar. Getting into the habit of checking the web
address can prevent you from being caught. It’s pretty easy to lose smartphones and tablets,
or for them to get into the wrong hands. Here are some precautions you can take. One is a screen lock, a PIN protection which
makes it hard to get into the phone and use it. The next is a SIM lock, which means if
someone does get access to the phone, they can’t make any calls, even if the SIM is
put into another phone. And there’s also an in app lock which makes
you enter a PIN before you can make a purchase from within an app. This is really useful
when young children have access to the device. Ofcom’s website has a page which shows you
how to set all these passwords and PINs on different devices. Search: ‘Ofcom lost stolen
phone’ or get the link from the PDF resource which goes with this video. It’s a good idea to routinely back up any
important files. And a lot of people are doing this in what’s known as the cloud. Instead
storing files on a computer or a storage device like a USB memory stick, they’re stored on
the internet. One big advantage is that you can access your files from anywhere, and if
you lose your device, your files still be there in the cloud. There are many suppliers
to chose from who are building their reputation on providing secure storage. There are also a number of services which
will help you find your device by showing its location or making it ring. They can also
remotely reset it to its factory settings and therefore erase any data on the device.
Links to these services can be found in the accompanying PDF, or search for one of these’ When you decide to sell, recycle or give your
device away, your data will go with it unless take steps to remove it. So erase any media
cards such as SD cards and perform a full factory reset from the settings menu to delete
any data that’s stored on the phone itself. Perhaps one of the most dangerous aspects
of using mobile technology is when we don’t realise the risks we’re taking. Most people
don’t think like criminals, but criminals are well practised at seeing these risks as
opportunities. We lock and protect our houses, cars and possessions.
And the information we carry around on mobile devices is just as valuable to criminals as
these physical objects, so we need to make sure we’re taking care of it in the same way.

6 thoughts on “Information Security (smartphones, tablets and mobile devices)

  1. Surprised there was no mention of device encryption in this. It's a small step to take to ensure data protection.
    Even when selling a phone or tablet, a factory reset isn't always enough. It's good practice to encrypt the device and then erase it for that extra level or protection.

  2. I disagree with "phone cracking". The process is called 'unlocking' in most jurisdictions and is usually safe if carried out by the carrier themselves. These days I buy a phone SIM-free to begin with so I can use almost any GSM carrier I want. 🙂

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