That there is no 100%-security guarantee to be protected on mobile devices is obvious, otherwise the NSA would not have managed to intercept the cell phone service of well-known politicians.
Especially, since mobile phones nowadays are not only used for making calls, but photos, recording videos, sending SMSs, entering personal data into the address book or storing bank account details, pins, or tan numbers, besides remembering appointments and much more .
So, once the mobile phone is cracked and the data is on the hacker’s PC, you should really be concerned. Please do not let it get that far. Instead, find out what you can do to make your phone more secure and how to protect yourself from any risk. Or at least try to prevent eavesdropping by considering the following best practices:
Updates: Current updates are as important for mobile phones as for computers, however, many are still equipped with the same software that was on the device when they have been purchased, making it easy for hackers to exploit security holes and gain access.
Use coding: With newer phones you can send encrypted data. In fact, personal data, login data, emails and websites should always be transmitted in an encrypted form. With the help of apps like the Android Privacy Guard, for instance, mails can obliterated before sending, so that no one can monitor, while data is being transferred.
Smartphone selection: Each manufacturer has its advantages and disadvantages, so get well-informed before your purchase, such as reading that the most popular smartphones are reportedly Apple's iPhone, BlackBerry, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone 8. According to test results, iPhones and Windows Phone 8 are currently the most secure systems, but that may change at any time.
Enable access code: After your purchase, you should definitely use the blocking possibilities offered by the mobile phone, such as activating a pin code and card lock to be protected from strangers. Also the screen lock/key lock should be activated, so that the phone can’t activate itself in your pocket, connect to the Internet on its own, or unintentionally call someone.
Turn off Bluetooth: As gateway, hackers love Bluetooth connections in particular, we recommend that you generally turn-off radio services when they are not needed: WLAN, GPS and Bluetooth you need at best for Google Maps and data synchronization with other mobile phones. So, if you do not currently use this function just switch them off, preventing strangers to gain access, besides saving valuable power.
Consider hotspots’ threats: Public Internet hotspots offer little security, but unfortunately, you can rarely check if a hotspot is really what it claims to be. Hackers can easily install faked access points: If you use them with your phone, crooks can listen in or transmit personal access data.
Never click SMS/MMS of strangers: If you want to be absolutely safe, you should never click on links in SMSs, emails or other news. Unfortunately, hackers use these as a gateway to attack or infect your phone with malware so that they can use all functions of your phone down to their whim. Further, only open MMSs if you are sure that the picture message really comes from the person which supposedly has sent it. In a pinch, give a short call.
Install only trusted apps: Every app wants to use various functions of your smartphone, such as the Internet connection or the data of your address book. When installing an app, the user always has to give his consent first. So, only agree with the installation, if you are sure that the app comes from trusted sources, because behind some apps there can be hidden viruses. When in doubt, stay away from the installation and look instead for another app. But first of all, make sure you install apps that can identify viruses on your smartphone.
Theft: Once your phone gets stolen, you can activate an erasure code via another mobile phone. Newer smartphones already have this function installed. Older equipment can be retrofitted by an app, such as the one from F-Secure. That way, you can always delete all data via another phone in case of an emergency, making them inaccessible to the thief. Even a smart phone blocker for children can be set up easily.
Backups: Always remember to make regular backups, so that if the phone is lost, data can be restored easily on your mobile phone without any losses.
Looking at all the threats that are lurking in the big world out there, it is surprising that many smartphones are still not adequately protected against misuse of data. Especially when considering that no other device stores so many personal data as smartphones. But in times of data theft, viruses and hacker attacks, data security of mobile devices plays an important role and therefore shouldn’t be forgotten.
Although mobile devices offer several ways to protect against misuse of data, astonishingly just a few are used in reality: Only around half of the mobile users put a virus scanner on the smartphone into operation or use services to locate the phone block or erase data remotely, not to mention that smartphone data is often neither secured via online data storage nor a local back-up system.
By Daniela La Marca