Are you concerned about security on your mobile device? It's no secret that mobile users have been hacked in the past and had their personal information stolen. But is mobile security getting any better? Here are a few things you need to know about the current state of mobile security.
Apps Can Protect You Or Hurt You
|Image via Flickr by William Hook|
The downside to smartphone applications is that even though there are apps that can protect you, others can hurt you. For instance, you might think you're downloading a seemingly safe application when in reality there's a virus piggybacking on the download. Furthermore, top-rated apps may become prime targets for hackers, meaning that even the best apps aren't always completely safe.
The good news is that an increasing number of app developers are using encrypted data to keep your information further from the reach of hackers. For instance, the cloud storage service Spideroak encrypts data at every stage of the process, making it a bit safer than options like Dropbox that don't.
It's In the Fine Print
Before you download an app, be sure you're checking what the app has permission to access on your device. An application may not be damaging in the way that it installs malware and viruses without your consent. In fact, you may simply be giving the app permission to access your files. If an app does compromise your privacy, it could be because you've allowed it access to do so, though.
The good news is that in app stores like Google Play, you'll see a list of what the app is asking permission to access. You'll want to read through the full list before accepting the terms, so that you're not surprised later by how the app gains access to and uses your information.
File Sharing Raises Concerns
Mobile devices and their complementary cloud-based storage apps raise many concerns, particularly for businesses. The security threat here is that people are concerned that sharing files could lead other users to forward sensitive information. The further this information is distributed, the more vulnerable it is.
According to 2013 research into the state of mobile security, the second top concern with BYOD aka Bring Your Own Device was that users would be able to forward company data onto cloud-based storage services. This grave concern fell behind only that of lost or stolen devices.
It's clear how this may raise concerns for businesses allowing individuals to bring their own devices to work. As an individual, however, this should also be a concern. That's because even if you delete sensitive data on your device, such as photos, contact information, etc., it still survives on cloud storage services and on devices of anyone to whom you've forwarded the file. Even if you're the only one with the file, that digital data is never gone. Today, it's still a huge worry for many people about where the copies of their files are and how susceptible the information is to being breached.
The Bottom Line
While there are still a lot of concerns surrounding mobile security and the protection of your device -- including even physically protecting your phone from damage and water -- there have been improvements. For instance, more applications are taking security measures to encrypt their data and create constant updates to stay out of reach from hackers. In addition, operating systems like Google's Android 5.0 Lollipop OS are becoming more secure.
How do you feel about your device and its security?