The need for more security in the mobile industry is a big issue today. Policymakers and government’s agencies are doing their best to publicly address the matter, so consumers can protect themselves and app developers can know what to do in order to provide utmost transparent service to smartphones users.
APPS Act 2013
The apps you use every day should be at your service and not installed on your smartphone to spy on you. If you are reading this, it means you are an app user, and as such you should demand more transparency, security as well privacy.
Congressman Hank Johnson released the APPS Act in January; APPS stands for “Application Privacy, Protection and Security”. The development of the Act can be followed on this page. From the same page you can even send a direct message to the congressman in order to suggest ideas.
I do not want to bother you with the details of the Act; you can read the whole document by clicking here. However, I will now summarize interesting aspects of the Act.
App developers need to offer more transparency. And they will do this through:
- Providing terms and conditions.
- Increasing the security of the data collected.
- Giving options to smartphone users to opt out of the service, with deletion of all stored details.
Developers will need to provide smartphone users with information about:
- Kind of personal information collected.
- How personal data will be used.
- Third parties entities that will use personal data provided by users.
- The length of time personal information is retained.
Congressman Hank Johnson is not the only one who is working hard to make the smartphone industry a safer place for end-users, like you and me. You may recall what I reported in “Naughty Naughty App Developers…Always Spying on You!”. California Attorney General (Kamala D. Harris) released some recommendations for all parties involved in the mobile phone industry, with emphasis on app developers.
While I was writing about applications I started to think that app developers are not the only problem. You need to have a broader view today. We now have a surge in the numbers of mobile-hackers, mobile-malware, mobile-viruses etc. So why not providing some tips? Here are some:
- Back up your data. This way, should your mobile device get hacked, you have all important stuff in a secure place. Use an external hard drive, or cloud service such as Dropbox.
- Make sure you have the latest operating system running on your smartphone. Having an up-to-date OS on your device certainly decreases the chance for your smartphone to get hacked.
- Explore your loved device. It is always an excellent idea to know as much as possible about your device. Explore and know your device’s settings.
- Safeguard your device. Protect your mobile device with security apps against mobile-hackers, and passwords against theft.
Note: I am putting together an article on specific security apps you can download and install on your smartphone. Ergo “stay tuned”, subscribe to the newsletter, so to have the latest delivered into your inbox.
- Whenever you download and install applications on your device, make sure you do so from trusted sources.
- In my earlier article “Warning! Security Issues for App Users” I wrote about some apps that are able to send a text message or initiate a phone call without your permission. Ergo, always make sure your monthly phone bill makes sense.
- When possible, read the “Terms and Conditions” before installing an app on your smartphone.
- Report stolen phones as soon as possible.
- In case you sell, donate or recycle your phone, wipe out all personal data before you do that.
- I wrote another article a while ago: “Be Aware: the Web May Be a Dangerous Thing!”. The section at the bottom is entitled “Don’t Forget Your Smartphone”. In that paragraph there is a link to a work by the Federal Communication Commission (FC) which helps you understanding basic measures you can implement to make your mobile phone more secure. You can read the whole article if you wish, which is anyway a good analysis of today’s digital crime reality, but if you want to get straight to the recommended security checker, please click here.
- Remember to turn off the Bluetooth connection as soon as you finish with it. It is not a 100% safe technology.
- Do not connect to Wi-Fi connections; unless you are absolutely sure it is a secure one.
You have to understand that smartphones are not to be considered mobile phones anymore, they really are pocket PCs now. I do not know about you but on my mobile device I store passwords, personal photos, emails, a huge list of personal/work contacts, and not to mention work documents – including my clients’ details. I have lots of security measures in place though, thus feel very safe.
Are you concerned with smartphone security? Have you already implemented any of the above strategies? Do you have any more valuable tips? Leave your thoughts below, and share with me your story.