Mobile phones and devices:
Why protect them?

We use our smartphones, tablets and laptops every day, but around 80% of smartphones are unprotected against Malware. Does your phone need protecting? What are the dangers of leaving it unprotected?

You wouldn’t leave your desktop open to Malware would you? Then why leave your phones, tablets and laptops wide open to the perils of the internet. Just because your laptops, tablets and mobile phones are smaller and portable doesn’t mean they are any less vulnerable to attacks and Malware.

In fact, now that more than 7 in 10 UK residents use mobile phones daily (as of June 2013, it might well be higher now) they are more vulnerable than ever. Whether for business or pleasure people get very attached to their devices.

Is my mobile phone in danger?

A big danger in browsing on the go is the network you are connected to. Is it the 3G/4G that comes with your contract or is it the free Wi-Fi from the local coffee shop? Next you have to consider what you’re doing on your phone when connected to these networks.

Are you just googling the name of that actor from the film you watched last night? Or are you doing a spot of online banking or shopping whilst waiting for your coffee? Perhaps even paying a bill online? If you’re browsing or shopping over an unsecured network then you are putting your phone, and therefore your personal data, at risk.

Can you be App-solutely sure you are secure?

Almost everybody has downloaded an app or two in their time. You can find an app for almost anything these days. Some can make menial tasks like travelling or exercising fun, interesting, or at least less soul destroying. Who cares if you have to give the App access to your contacts, personal information, texts, emails, first-child and a percentage of your income? Right? Who even reads the terms and conditions?

In a world that seems to be moving faster and faster, people want things faster and faster. That includes Apps. Taking the time to read the terms and conditions, as well as taking notice of the permissions you’re accepting, could save you some hassle down the line. For example, what does allowing the App to “post on my behalf” really mean?

Be sure to check the rating of an App, before downloading it. If it’s a brand new flappy bird rip-off from a publisher you don’t recognise, with barely any reviews, that wants a large number of permissions, then it is probably dodgy.

How can you protect your mobile phone?

The first and most powerful way to protect your mobile phone is to not browse on it or download anything at all, but who’s going to do that? Another simple piece of advice would be to connect it when you need it and disconnect it when you’re done, therefore minimising the time you’re open to the world at large.

But, I hear you cry, what if I want to see Facebook updates as and when they happen? Well, then I’d steer clear of websites such as banks, online stores and anywhere else that carries your private personal information, whilst you’re on the move. By all means check the stock of an item but avoid actually buying it: not only does that require you to input your credit card or bank details, you’re also logging into the website, which will most likely have some personal data attached.

If you are absolutely determined to do either of these things or you want to get involved with all of the new-fangled NFC functionality on your phone, then you’re going to want to get protected. Although honestly even if you’re not the most intense mobile user getting an AV on your phone is a great idea.

The scary thing about malware producers is that they’re clever and there are always new ways to sneak nasty malware onto your treasured devices.

What about physical protection?

Even if you never connect your phone to the internet or are extremely careful about the sites you visit on the move, your personal data could still be accessed by someone who finds or steals your mobile.

There are a couple of simple ways to prevent your information being accessed even if your phone is lost or stolen. First things first, make sure your phone is locked effectively, that means with a password, even a pattern is better than nothing. An opportunistic thief is far less likely to keep a phone that they can’t get into immediately.

The next level is to use an AV that also provides remote siren, remote lock and remote wipe or even GPS localisation. Remote siren, lock and wipe are exactly what you think: you can set an alarm off, lock, or even completely wipe your phone if worst comes to worst. At the end of the day keeping your data safe sometimes means deleting it altogether.

You can pick up ESET Mobile Security for Android, Windows phone and Symbian at the respective links. The base app is free but unlocking the premium features provides you with all the added benefits of anti-theft as well as enhanced scanning options.