Be smart about your smartphone

Facebook, email, texting, even banking – there’s not much you can’t do from your smartphone today.

CPAs identified control of mobile devices as their number one technology concern on the AICPA’s “2011 Top Technology Initiatives Survey,” just edging out information security.

There’s a reason that mobile devices and security are a concern. Chris Jenkins, OSCPA’s chief technology strategist, reminds businesses that information security is one of the major challenges to mobility. “The technology is advancing faster than the security needed for the sensitive data being exchanged on smartphones and tablets,” Jenkins said. “Cyber intelligence and information security are very real concerns.”

What can you do to protect yourself?

Brent Rose, from PCWorld, offers some helpful suggestions you should do as a minimum to protect yourself and any information (personal or work) that is stored and accessible on your smartphone.

  1. Don’t lose your phone. This should go without saying, but, just like your keys, losing your phone could be a disaster.
  2. Password-protect access to your phone. Using the administrative rights on your phone, you can add another valuable layer of protection. You can also set your phone to lock after a certain amount of inactivity that would require the password to log back in.
  3. Remote wipe the data off your phone if your phone is lost or stolen. This means that if your phone is lost or stolen, you can remotely clear email, contacts, texts and documents and keep the information out of the wrong hands.
  4. Consider “Lookout” or another antivirus application to scan your phone for malware and spyware. Most will even scan downloaded applications to make sure you don’t have any “uninvited guests.”
  5. Carefully screen any application before downloading to your phone. Many applications may require more information than they actually need. Check application ratings and comments when downloading if you’re unsure about the application.

“It’s a brave, new, constantly evolving world out there,” Rose wrote, acknowledging that attacks are becoming more frequent and will only continue to multiply. Hindsight is 20/20. But don’t wait until your smartphone is in the wrong hands to wonder whether you’ve done enough to protect yourself and your employer.