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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | post

Protecting your new smartphone against Identity Theft

by Steve Schwartz on

Identity theft by hackers who gain access to weakly or not-protected smartphones is rampant. If you are getting a new phone, whether iOS or android, you need to make sure you protect your new wireless/blue tooth connections against identity theft right after you open the box.

To start, users should know what kind of encryption is in place on the network they're using. The safest choice is WPA2, which is more secure than its predecessors, WPA and WEP. Today, all new wireless routers require WPA2 encryption, but in some older devices, WPA2 might not be supported.

Then right out of the box, the phone itself must be made as safe as possible.

(I thank Al Sacco at CIO.com and Chris Mills at Gizmodo UK for their invaluable thoughts on smartphone safety.  Also look at http://www.identityguard.com/how-identity-guard-works)

Start using a password now

All the surveys show that less than half of smartphone users have password protected their phones. The experts are in complete agreement that everyone should password protect their phones against many of threats they face and against the accidental loss or if the phone is stolen. Phones with both Apple's and Android's operating systems come with built in options for setting sign on protection.

On most Android phones – pattern, pin, password and a biometric-based lock – fingerprint or face unlock. You set this on most Android phones by opening the Settings menu, go down the list to Location & Security Settings, check enable to Screen Unlock Security then chose among the options presented.

For Apple phones with the iOS operating system to set a passcode: Go to Settings > General > Passcode Lock and set a 4-digit passcode. To increase security, turn off Simple Passcode and use a longer passcode.

Set Screen Timeout to a low number

Screen Timeout is the setting that times-out the device from the last keystroke or swipe and shuts off the screen display, locks the device and requires the password be used to wake the device up again. You can set how much time passes between the last use and lock. Use a relative low number.

Put your owner info onto your locked home screen

If you lose the phone and it is locked, who you are, and how to contact you, put on the start page will allow someone who finds the phone to get it back to you.

Do install an Anti-Malware Antivirus Program

The anti-Malware anti-virus programs available on the market might not be perfect but they will protect your smartphone from the casual kinds of malware attacks you are likely to run into. The experts suggest programs like Lookout Mobile Security, AVG, Avast, McAfee Wave Secure, and Antivirus Free. There are plenty of other anti-malware apps out there.

Do NOT root your Android device or "jailbreak" your iPhone

Finally, a disappointing number of Android or Apple phone owners remove the manufacturer and cell-carrier-imposed restrictions put on smartphones. "Rooting" of an Android phone or "Jailbreaking" of an Apple phone makes it easier for some "unofficial"apps to be downloaded and installed. Rooting or jailbreaking also opens up system-level access to a device’s core resources without any protection. This is, all the experts agree, is a very bad idea.

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