What's New in Technology for August 2014

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Technology: Smart Phones Need Smart Security

About 4 million smart phones were either stolen or permanently lost last year. Despite this and the increasing sophistication of cyber criminals, many smart phone users seem almost blissfully unaware of the threat of identity theft and fraud. It’s estimated that only one-third of all smart phone users use even a basic four-digit PIN number to lock their phone if it is misplaced or stolen. If you’d rather not share your phone data with cyber crooks, take some simple steps to make your mobile device as secure as possible. Consider how many other accounts (and how much confidential data) could be accessed if your unlocked phone fell into the wrong hands. Apart from phone contacts, photos, texts, emails and other personal/business information, a professional thief probably also could gain access to bank account or password information from your smart phone.

If you use a four-digit PIN to lock your phone, you are doing more than most mobile phone users –but it is still not enough. Here are some simple, easy-to-implement steps to safeguard priceless information. If you are not sure how to implement these recommendations, talk to the retailer who sold you the phone, and make sure you ask about security when you upgrade or buy a new model.

  • Locking the phone down
    1. The lockdown feature is perhaps the single most important tool when it comes to deterring thieves. Using a four-digit PIN is better than nothing, but using eight digits that include a capital letters and numbers in the mix is even better. If you want to go further, use encryption to protect your information.
    2. Set your phone to automatically lock after one minute.
    3. Consider installing an app that can locate the phone if it’s lost. If you do, get one that will also delete data remotely.
    4. Keep up-to-date with all apps and programs. Install new versions or updates as soon as you receive the notification.
  • Erasing Data
    Buy software that will erase data stored on your phone remotely – a huge relief if your device is stolen. Activate the erase feature if you can’t locate your phone within 30 minutes. Get busy as soon as you realize your phone is missing. Call your carrier and seek their advice. Change the passwords and PIN numbers on all your accounts.

    It is a good idea to file a police report if you believe the phone was stolen. If you use your phone for banking and shopping, contact your bank and credit companies. The police report will be helpful if you need to dispute credit card charges at a later date. Losing all your phone data is not the nightmare that it used to be if you are in the habit of regularly backing up your data.
  • Back Up/Sync Frequently
    If you have an app that can locate and remotely delete your phone data, make sure you have copies of the data available elsewhere. Thanks to cloud computing and services that allow you to make copies of your data, you can either reload the information if your phone is found or reinstall the data on a new device if it’s gone for good. Being able to remotely delete phone data is a huge plus, but unless you are conscientious about syncing with your PC or using cloud computing to copy and store important files, you will face many issues and inconveniences when you try to reassemble what you’ve lost.

Smart phones – so indispensable to modern living – merit the same security vigilance as your PC and laptop. The business world is mobile today, and so are the crooks.


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