Are you smarter than your phone?

040616D-2590-D966-E2CAEDE376B61B8FOK, you are running anti-malware on your computer. You have upgraded protection on your wi-fi router and even started using a password application on your computer to manage your passphrases (yes, passphrases, not passwords!). Good job. Now they are attacking your cell phone! And half the world’s population uses a smartphone today.

Have you protected that mobile device with the same enthusiasm as your computer? Are you still vulnerable? You bet you are!

Almost 50 percent of us use a smart device as our primary internet connection. Yet, about 28% (Pew Research) don’t use a screen password/PIN to access the phone! About 1 in 10 have never updated their operating system (and so are well behind in code updates, many of which involve protecting against unauthorized access).

In this era where many of use live on our smartphones, don’t have landline telephones (how primitive!) and even do all our banking and shopping on our phones, these devices have now become the attack-point of choice for crooks looking to steal your identity. So, what to do? Walt Manning shared some key actions we can all take to protect our information and identities at the recent Government Identity Fraud Conference.

First, just how vulnerable are you? Wikileaks has demonstrated that the CIA (and that means others as well!) can hack your phone at will. Operating systems that are open and much more vulnerable than those that are closed (not available to just anyone to modify).

So, what to do?

  1. Use a password or PIN – always. Beware of touch technology. It has been defeated.
  2. Use a password application to manage your passwords just like you would on your computer (Hey, your smartphone IS a computer)
  3. Load and use an anti-malware application on your phone.
  4. Only get applications from an approved application store. While this is not 100% safe, it’s much safer than some website you came across!
  5. Always remember that if you have voice control and a personal assistant — it’s always listening. And recording. And available to others with access.
  6. Finally, DON’T connect to public wi-fi! You have no idea who you are dealing with, who has access or will gain access, where your data is going…etc. If you have to use public Wi-fi, use a VPN.
  7. Be very judicious about what apps you have and use. Almost all of them have terms of use that allow them to upload all of your contact information. Some can access everything on your phone!
  8. Finally, use two-factor authentication.

With the world moving to these devices, protecting our identities and information is paramount. Make no assumptions about your information security on your mobiles devices — protect yourself.

a891b87d092047e4a85da861a68c0d58Again, thanks to the good folks at the ITRC and LexisNexis Risk Solutions for the conference and to  Walt Manning for his great presentation information — some of which is included in this article.


2 thoughts on “Are you smarter than your phone?

  1. Hi, Bob. Great blog! I’ve started to get spam phone calls on my cell phone, for some reason. What have I done to leave myself open to this? Besides blocking every one of the callers after they call, is there anything I can do to stop them from getting through to me in the first place?

    • Cindy, Thanks. More to come. As for unwanted cell calls, with the decrease in landline telephones and the generations now going to cell phone-only service, telemarketers are now concentrating on mobile. I get a couple a day and block them immediately. That’s the key, but it will not stop them. UYou can register your cell phone number with the national Do Not Call Registry. They accept both landline and cell numbers. This will help significantly. To register, call 1-888-382-1222 or go to Your registration takes effect within 24 hours and you’ll get the full effect after about a month as telemarketers update their databases. Nothing is foolproof, but this will make a big difference. Remember, not everyone is barred from calling you. Legitimate researchers, political campaigns, and organizations you already have a relationship with (vendors, suppliers, etc.) can still call you even if you are on the register.

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