You don’t know how it happened, but somewhere between the Blackberry and the iPhone, you got addicted. The loving social media alerts, the persistent email notifications and that infuriating phantom ring (I swear I heard it beep). Ahh, the joys of owning a smartphone.
But you’re not the only one watching your phone’s every waking move. Identity thieves want nothing more than to crack into your smartphone and steal everything hidden inside—your personal information, passwords and data.
In fact, according to a report done by Javelin Strategy & Research, smartphone users are 35% more likely to experience fraud than the average consumer. One-third of smartphone and tablet owners save personal information on their devices, but only 16% have installed software capable of remotely wiping the device if stolen. That’s a lot of people carrying around an identity jackpot.
And identity thieves don’t necessarily need to steal your device to get the desired information. Thieves can hack into your smartphone when you’re on public Wi-Fi or send phishing text messages and emails (What’s phishing? Click here and here). You could even accidently download an application rigged with malware. According to the same study, users who have clicked on applications or checked in using GPS are even more likely to experience fraud. You wanted to be connected, but not to an identity thief.
Since detaching yourself from your beloved devices probably isn’t an option, we suggest making a few minor adjustments to your connected life.
- Turn off your GPS. Do you really need to check-in?
- Install security software. There are several credited programs out there that give you the ability to back-up your device’s data, as well lock and/or wipe it out if lost.
- Enter the app store with caution. Not all applications are safe for download. Read user reviews and research the app developer.
- Stay off public Wi-Fi (Unless you enjoy connecting with malicious hackers).
- Utilize your phone’s lock and password function. This simple step could protect your phone from prying eyes.
If nothing else, keep in mind that your smartphone isn’t invincible and it doesn’t have super powers. So be careful what you store and be careful what you do.
Source: “2012 Identity Fraud Survey Report,” Javelin Strategy & Research, February 2012.