Smartphone and PDA Security: The Risk of Staying Connected

In this growing age of iPhones accompanying silverware at the dinner table and Blackberrys being a table ornament at most business meetings, the question arises of the security of such devices. The rapidly growing demographic of Smartphone and PDA users is increasingly at risk of contracting malware, being targeted by spam, and falling victim to identity theft. The nature of this technology, including the size, portability and wireless interfaces upon which the gadgets function, makes them ideal candidates for these internet security breaches. As we as a culture rely more on our handheld devices to maintain a connection to our peers, our families and our jobs, it is important to remember that, just like your computer, these devices need to be safeguarded against the risk of infection.

Generally, mobile malware is developed for phones that have software development kits (SDKs) where external programmers can develop applications for the devices (think the iPhone App Store). Computer viruses and worms can also be transmitted when a device is being synchronized with a computer, through internet downloads on Smartphone and PDA browsers, via emails received on your phone, or when your device is connected to a wireless interface such as WiFi or Bluetooth. Aside from traditional email spam, spammers are beginning to use text messaging and voice messaging as another means to send unwanted advertisements. Users may even be charged by their carriers for such messages. GPS tracking is also becoming a more prominent feature on most phones, making locating individuals simple if geolocation software is left on. This is another avenue for hackers to engage in identity theft.

There are plenty of steps you can take to safeguard your phone so that, if you end up experiencing the life-altering instance where your phone is lost or stolen, your information, and more importantly, your identity are not. First of all, learn about and use the built-in security features that come with every phone. This includes password protection, pin number usage on applications, and user verification. Although these measures may seem tedious at first, each one is a small safeguard against potential threats. If your phone is taken, these security measures may not prevent total access, but they may buy enough time to fully deactivate the device and prevent any information from being stolen.

Another key security measure is to keep all wireless interfaces turned off unless they are in use (this will also prolong battery life). Lastly, make sure your PC has up-to-date antivirus and antispyware software such as PC Tools AntiVirus Free. This will prevent any malware from spreading between your phone and computer during synchronization. Although each of these is a small measure to be taken, they will collectively go a long way in ensuring your internet safety.

(Read more here, from The Register.)

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