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One Step Ahead

October 25, 2011, Volume 58, No. 09

Another tip in a series provided by the Offices of Information Systems & Computing and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

Protecting Information on Your Smartphone

Global smartphone shipments are expected to reach 462 million units in 2011, an increase of 60% over the 288 million shipped in 2010. Many of us use these devices to help conduct both our work and personal business in efficient and convenient ways. However, as usage of smartphones grows, so do concerns about the privacy and security of the data on those devices. According to a recent survey, more than one-third of all smartphone users are concerned about harmful apps, malicious emails, and the potential for user-location tracking.

There are steps you can take to help protect yourself against smartphone privacy and security risks, including the following:

•  Become familiar with the features of your smartphone and use its built-in security components. Keep the security features up to date.

•  Only download applications from trusted sources.  Check available information regarding the app developer, not just the site or carrier where the app is available.

•  According to one source, most malware found on phones comes from hackers taking a popular app, adding malicious code and distributing it for free.  Be sure to download only official versions.

•  Download updates for trusted apps regularly, especially banking and payment apps.

•  Pay attention to requests (in the form of pop-ups or dialog boxes, for example) that ask for your approval to change permissions settings, and only allow access for trusted apps.

•  Turn off your wi-fi and Bluetooth functions when you are not using them, as these are two possible ways to gain access to your phone.

•  Back up important data to a desktop, laptop or other computer.

•  Check your billing information every month to see whether there are unrecognized numbers; if so, this could be an indication that malware has been installed on your phone.

For additional useful information see a recent Computerworld article at www.computerworld.com/s/article/9218163/Smartphone_apps_Is_your_privacy_protected_


For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/


Almanac - October 25, 2011, Volume 58, No. 09