We all recognise that sinking feeling when we realise we have left the house without our mobile phone. So it’s no surprise to hear that two thirds of people now own a smartphone, using it for nearly two-hours a day to browse the internet, access social media and bank and shop online.
Just nine years after launching the first full touch screen smartphone, the smartphone penetration is approaching a peak. According to the UK Mobile Consumer Survey, key findings include:
- Almost half of 18-24 year olds check their phone in the middle of the night
- 27% of smartphones include a fingerprint reader, of which 76% are used
- Connected home devices still haven’t taken off, with just 2% of adults owning smart lights and smart appliances
- As of mid-2016, almost half of UK adults had access to at least one type of connected entertainment product
- 4G adoption has more than doubled in the last year from 25% to 54%
- 31% of smartphone users make no traditional voice calls in a given week. This contrasts with a quarter in 2015, and just 4% in 2012
- The majority of survey participants have downloaded 20 or fewer apps
- By mid-2016, almost two-thirds of UK adults had access to a tablet, but penetration growth had slowed down
But does your phone pose a cyber security threat?
The modern workplace is being shaped by the demands of a mobile workforce, with employees preferring to complete tasks on the road or from home. However, these benefits come with risks and mobile devices are one of the weakest links in today’s society. Businesses are battling to manage a proliferation of devices, protecting data, securing networks and training employees to take security seriously. It is suggested that mobile devices are largely breached because people lose them or fail to practise appropriate security habits.
Here are some tips that can help you protect your identity, and that of your business, while you use your device or in the event your phone is stolen:
1. Set a password
Setting a password on your mobile device means that if lost or stolen, your data and personal information is more difficult to access. Make a password that is difficult to guess, do not use any obvious information such as your birthday, address or a portion of your phone number – or a typical 1234 code!
2. Watch your wireless
Free Wi-Fi networks are usually unsecured, many applications and web pages do not use the correct security measures, and sending unencrypted data across the network can be easily read by someone who is grabbing data as it travels. So, be safe and only use free Wi-Fi sparingly on your mobile device and never use it to access confidential or personal services, like banking or credit card information.
When in discoverable mode, your Bluetooth-enabled devices are visible to other nearby devices, which may alert an attacker or infected device to target you. When in non-discoverable mode, your Bluetooth-enabled devices are invisible to other unauthenticated devices.
4. Back up your data
Gone are the days when you need to memorise numbers; for many, the only source of contact information for people nowadays is stored in your phone. This makes the loss of a phone even more painful and hazardous; by syncing your device to your PC or laptop you are backing up all your data to ensure you have it – even if you don’t have your phone.
5. Download from trusted sources
It goes without saying that if you’re downloading apps for your device, you should use reputable and trusted sources; iTunes, Google Play or the App Store for example. You shouldn’t download any applications onto your device directly from the internet unless you can be assured it is safe to do so. Don’t take the risk of downloading an app that you are unsure of, particularly when so many applications are available for free.
Some applications claim extensive rights to accessing and leveraging your personal information, so walk away if the app wants more access than is necessary to run its service.
6. Security software
This is a must for smartphone users – the mobile malware market is booming and because few users protect their devices, they are particularly attractive to hackers and cyber criminals. The only protection for this is to use mobile security software and keep it up-to-date.
7. Wipe your phone
This is an obvious one for anyone thinking about upgrading or getting a new phone. Deleting data needs to be done securely; you can check the website of the device’s manufacturer for more information on how to do this. You can also contact your mobile phone provider who may have useful information on how to securely wipe your device. If necessary, some phone providers offer remote wiping, allowing you or your provider to remotely delete all data on your phone.