We Haven’t Had the Big One Yet, But…
The PC world went through many waves of harmful viruses, malware and security attacks. Go back to 2006 — when BlackBerry (BBRY) was the only smartphone game in town — and the news is full of headlines about PC security.
A 2006 piece by Joris Evers on CNET says the FBI pegged the cost of PC malware and other criminal attacks on U.S. businesses at $67.2 billion.
Despite the hundreds of millions of smartphones in use and the massive amount of personal, financial and corporate data they store or access on a daily basis, we haven’t yet had an incident of catastrophic smartphone malware.
However, given the size of the target and the casual approach attitude many people have toward using their mobile devices, it seems likely to be a matter of time.
Smartphone Security Includes Smart Habits
While Avast and its competitors would like you to install smartphone security software — preferably a product they sell — your own smartphone security starts with common sense.
Among the tips recommended for using any mobile device, regardless of the platform:
- Lock your smartphone with a PIN or password and set it up to lock automatically
- Update your operating system
- Only download apps from official app stores like Google Play
- Don’t jailbreak your device
- If encryption is offered, use it
- Back up your data
- Be wary of untrusted Wi-Fi hotspots
And yes, you can install mobile security software (from a reputable company). It may not be perfect, but does provide protection from smartphone malware.
Selling Your Smartphone?
For many people, the release of a hot new device like the iPhone 6 means selling your smartphone and using the cash to offset the cost of buying that shiny new one. Avast says there are more than 80,000 used smartphones for sale online on any given day.
Given the findings, if you are an Android owner and are considering selling your smartphone, it may well be worth investing in third-party security software that can permanently erase the data on your device. And if you’re selling an iPhone, remember to “Erase all Contents and Settings” before handing it over to the new owner.
The bottom line? Whether you’re selling your old device on EBay (EBAY), snapping photos, side-loading apps or looking for free Wi-Fi to do some mobile shopping, you ignore smartphone security at your own risk.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.