Friday, June 13, 2014

Keep your mobile devices secure

Most of us find our mobile devices have become an inseparable part of our lives. We use our smartphones to communicate with others, share information and updates, and capture moments. And along the way, we put a lot of personal information on our phones.

Take a moment to think about the information your phone contains about you. These personal details are typically stored in the "Cloud" and accessed via an app, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail. Other information might be stored or synced locally, such as your texts, contacts, and specific personal information. Even photos have become sensitive personal data, especially when you consider geotagging of photos to indicate where the photo was taken and facial recognition to identify who is in the photo. What other personal data can you find on your phone?

So it's important to keep your mobile devices secure. What would happen if you lost your phone? Or if your phone were stolen? Smart phone thefts rose to 3.1 million last year, according to Consumer Reports. The easiest step is to put a passcode on your phone; with an iPhone, this is a 4-digit number that you use to unlock the phone. On an Android phone, you can use a number or (more commonly) a swipe combination to connect a number of dots in a 3×3 grid.

What about when you get rid of the phone? When it's time to upgrade your phone to the next model, what do you do to protect the data that's left behind? The June edition of "OUCH!" (PDF) covers how to securely dispose of your mobile device. Most people do not realize just how much sensitive and personal information they have on their mobile devices. If you are not careful about how you dispose of your older mobile devices, almost anyone can access that information. It's a simple process, but an important one.

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