High-Tech Technology — Are You Safe?

by Melissa Dean

The Smartphone craze has gotten to the point where Smartphones are outselling conventional PCs. It is OK to be crazy about your Smartphone or to want to own one — after all, jumping on the bandwagon is a natural human condition. What you should know is that hackers are jumping on the bandwagon right alongside you. They have turned their attention to Win7 handsets, iPhones, and other high-tech mass gadgets. You are not safe, not even when the gadget is safely away in your pocket! Roughly 10 percent of all phones are “equipped” with spyware and malware according to data from a study in 2009. Like it or not, the Smartphone is the new PC; so, start getting smart about protection. There are over 500 types of phone malware at the present, and the number is increasing steadily.

Android applications are the easiest target

Back in 2004, hacker attacks weren’t much to fear. Little damage was done by Commwarrior and Cabir worms. Now things have changed. In September 2009, tech whizzes stole money from accounts by installing malware on Symbian units. Experts believe the Android is the easiest target as anyone can distribute applications online. Android applications are rarely checked for security breach. However, Google has imposed barriers recently. Applications run in a protected environment, where they are not in contact with each other and cannot access other devices without the permission of the user. All “rule-breakers” are automatically removed from the official market.

Overcharging

Another common effect of hacker attacks is overcharging. There are countless applications on Facebook asking users to fill out surveys, where they have to give their cell phone number. After that, they get huge phone bills with mysterious charges.

How to protect yourself

So, what can you do to protect yourself without giving up your precious Smartphone? Avoid storing too much information on it, for starters. You should realize that you are publicizing information just by using certain Smartphone features. This is a result of the software and technology and there is little you can do. The phone contains personal messages, credit card numbers, passwords, bank account information, and other valuable data. Imagine losing the phone. Someone could rack up a bill, and you would be entirely to blame. Report your phone stolen immediately if it is. The account will be annulled, and you’re not left bearing the costs. Make sure you always know where your phone is. Just because you aren’t paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t using it. If it is lost or stolen, all your activity can be seen through applications stored by the phone. Set security features like PINs, insure your phone, record the personal IMEI number, and delete all data before replacing your phone if you simply must have the latest model.

Other risks include harassment, fraud, identity theft, and spam mail. Is there anything you can do about this? Be careful when opening attachments in text messages or emails, because they might contain viruses or malware. Make sure you have anti-virus devices on your phone. Viruses can be transferred via unsecured or public wireless networks; so, do not carry out banking operations in this manner.

The easiest way to be safe at all times? Don’t buy a Smartphone.

Melissa Dean writes about Credit Cards in Credit Cards Canada