Cell Phone Spyware: I Spy on Your Phone
We're all used to dealing with the spyware threat on our desktops and laptops. We have firewalls, run anti-virus software and check for malware. But we don't think twice about our cell phones.
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Yes, there are spyware applications available that can be loaded onto a phone. These can potentially intercept e-mails, access contacts, view text messages, track GPS locations or listen in on conversations. Smartphones are the biggest targets for this. The growing popularity of the devices means we're in for an ongoing ramp up in security threats. This doesn't mean you should cower in fear, lock your smartphone up in a dark safe and go back to landline phone calls and letters on paper. Awareness is a big part of the battle right now. A recent study by market research company ABI Research estimates that the number of smartphones with advanced security protection will increase fivefold over the next five years. Since small businesses are known for being nimble, entrepreneurs have an opportunity to get in early on this trend.
- Treat your phone like a laptop. Don't let it out of your sight in public. You don't want to end up like that embarrassed Apple engineer who left the next generation iPhone at a bar.
- Use the same e-mail and attachment rules that you do for your regular computer. Don't open suspicious or spammy e-mails, don't open mystery links in your e-mails or text messages and don't crack open attachments if you don't know what they are.
- Use a strong password on your phone. This can at least discourage someone from logging onto your phone and trying to load up malware while you're in the break room getting coffee.
- Keep an eye on your cell phone bill. Look out for unusual data activity that could indicate your phone is sending information off to someone it isn't supposed to.
- Watch your wireless. Turn off Bluetooth when you're not using it and don't connect to Wi-Fi networks that aren't trusted.
- Think twice about storing supersensitive information on your cell phone. If it's a truly mission critical business conversation, you might not want to have 20 text messages about it sitting in your inbox.
- Consider mobile security software. The cell phone malware arena is turning into the same foot race as for regular computers. Anti-virus companies are working to keep up with the threats as they arrive. Well-known security companies like Symantec, McAfee and Kaspersky all offer mobile anti-virus and anti-malware packages.
- Talk to your employees. Take steps to protect your entire business by putting mobile security policies into place. A little training goes a long way.