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From the Magazine

Mobile Security Reality Check

Your smartphone, whether you want to admit it or not, is your lifeline. Read on to find out how you can give it the utmost protection.

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Think about the business information contained on your smartphone. If you’re like me, you store email communications with private information on your phone. Those conversations include facts about business strategy, sales pipelines and other confidential financial information. On top of that, your mobile device is where you store business passwords for everything from the dealership CRM to your website.

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It’s time to take a serious look at your mobile security starting with the simple lock feature on your smartphone. Studies show only about 30 percent of us even bother to lock our phones. How about you?

This one protective measure can save you from a bundle of problems and concerns if your phone was ever stolen or lost. Once you set your password or pattern swipe, there’s no need to share it with anyone beyond your immediate family if you care to do so. Treat this security information as you do your pin number on your credit card. Be aware of others watching you as you enter your password or perform your pattern swipe, so you don’t fall victim to theft.

Find My Phone!

One of the biggest mobile security risks is losing your phone, and if it’s happened to you, you know the panic that sets in when you realize all that is gone with the device. The thought of all your data floating out there in the hands of another person is truly frightening, so consider these facts as motivation to secure your phone; according to The New York Times, half of all robberies in San Francisco and 42 percent of all robberies in Washington, D.C., are related to smartphone theft.

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Further, there’s nothing the police can do for you besides log your device as stolen in the national database (the reality is that most phones end up overseas on the black market well out of the reach of U.S. government tracking efforts).

Apple provides some assistance in locating lost or stolen phones with its free software called Find My iPhone, which can find a missing iPhone or remotely erase its data. But the service does not work once the phone is turned off or disconnected from the Internet. To locate an iPhone, an Apple customer can log on to iCloud.com and see a map of its approximate location. The user can then hit a button to erase its information.

If you’re an Android user, get yourself set up with Lookout’s mobile solution. In the event your phone is lost or stolen, you can head to their website and attempt to track it down. First, the app will sound an alarm to help you pinpoint its location in case you misplaced it (or shock the heck out of your phone thief). If someone tries and fails to guess your password lock on your device, the app will snap a photo of the perpetrator and send you an email with their image and location. The Lookout website will also attempt to find your device’s last known location, sending out an email alert called “the signal flare” when your battery becomes critically low, allowing you a better chance of tracking it down.

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Mobile Antivirus Solutions
The next area of concern for smartphone owners are viruses that seek to steal your identity and, along with it, your business assets. Anti-virus companies are notorious for publishing ominous-sounding reports attempting to scare mobile phone owners into purchasing their products. Many of these concerns are blown way out of proportion, but hackers are honing in on the mobile marketplace, so it’s time to take notice to protect your mobile assets.

“If you follow simple precautions such as sticking to the Google Play Store, not downloading things from suspicious sites, and not clicking on suspicious links in emails you weren’t expecting, then you’re pretty safe,” says Marc Rogers, the principal security analyst at Lookout. “Google has a very effective app vetting process in place.”

And for iPhone owners: Apple’s app approval process is even more stringent, so you are relatively safe — however, the mobile security environment is swiftly changing, so this is an area to keep an eye on in 2013.

Hackers on the Horizon
Unfortunately, there has been an increase in targeted malware that can skirt past the security precautions Google, Apple and other platform providers have in place to protect mobile users. Malicious websites, third-party app stores offering free versions of popular paid apps and phishing emails containing bogus links are a few examples of how targeted malware can end up on your mobile device.

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Here’s what you need to do: if you’re walking around with an iPhone in your pocket, check the phone’s built-in security features. They are better than anything that can currently be found or purchased in the app store.

If you’re an Android user, you can keep your phone secure using one of the free Android security apps available. Consider offerings from Lookout, AVG or Avast — all companies with stellar reputations in mobile security.

Lookout Mobile Security has proven to be a favorite amongst Android antivirus offerings since their free app will scan files you’ve downloaded and apps you’ve installed to check for malware and viruses.

Lookout’s premium offerings will only set you back $3 a month, and they include the ability to lock your phone and wipe its data remotely, or even transfer data like photos, contacts and call history to a new device. You’ll also gain access to Privacy Advisor, which serves up a concise list of the information that installed apps can access. Downloading the app gets you a free two-week trial of the premium offerings, which should leave you with plenty of time to decide if the upgrade is right for you.

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Take time now to secure your smartphone with these simple steps so you can continue to utilize your features and functionality with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your business data is safe and secure.


Award-winning blogger and CEO of Duo Web Solutions, Heather Blessington is a nationally-renowned speaker on social media marketing and a digital marketing veteran. Her company provides MPN monthly columns focused on best practices in Web marketing for powersports dealers.

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