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How to Protect Personal Data on Smartphones

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In today’s highly connected world, smartphones have become a key asset in everyday life, for both business and personal use. Because smartphones are also a consumer item, you must consider the risks to the personal information stored and accessed using them.
The theft or accidental loss of a smartphone can expose businesses and individuals to loss of any data stored on the device. The use of consumer smartphones within a corporate environment further complicates the issue of data protection, as information may flow onto or through devices that are not fully controlled by the business.
In recent years, security researchers have conducted many studies and performed demonstrations on the weaknesses found in smartphone operating systems, as well as in the apps themselves. This type of research helps identify vulnerabilities that need to be strengthened in the devices and apps.

3 steps to ensure your personal information remains protected

1) Use the screen lock feature and make sure it is secured with a strong password or “draw to unlock” pattern. This is the most basic security precaution and requires minimal effort, yet can provide a critical barrier between personal information and a stranger.
2) Use security software specifically designed for smartphones. Such tools can stop hackers and prevent cybercriminals from stealing information or spying on you when you’re using public networks. In addition it can often help locate a lost or stolen device and even remotely lock or wipe it.
3) When out and about, make sure mobile devices remain nearby and are never left unattended. Be mindful of where you put your smartphone at all times. It is also a good idea to make sure you can differentiate your smartphone from others in the immediate vicinity by using a distinguishing sticker or case.

Corporations could take these protective measures

1) Develop and enforce strong security policies for employees using mobile devices for work; this includes requiring password-enabled screen locks. Use mobile device management and mobile security software.
2) Educate employees about the risks both online and physical associated with smartphones, such as the impact of a lost or stolen device.
3) Take inventory of the smartphones connecting to their networks; they can’t protect and manage what they don’t know about.
4) Establish a formal process in place so everyone knows what to do if a device is lost or stolen.
5) Integrate mobile device security and management into the overall security and management framework and administer it the same way. In essence, treat smartphones as the true endpoints they are.

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