News Archive

Smartphone Time-bomb

by msecadm4921

According to the latest research by ID fraud checkers Equifax, 40 per cent of smartphone users don’t use the passcode function on their device, leaving them vulnerable to fraud. With more people using a variety of smartphone devices for work, which can hold a large amount of information, the company is urging businesses to make sure they update their security policies to include smartphones.

This can protect against any sensitive files or emails being accessed, should the device be stolen or lost.

"Nearly three million people in the UK have fallen victim to phone theft and smartphones provide access to more data than ever, especially if they are being used for work," says Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director, Equifax. "I think that many businesses have wised up to the security risks of laptops and other personal data devices. But I am not sure if smartphones are being considered too.

"Businesses must remember that lost and stolen BlackBerrys, iPhones and other mobile comms devices can be mined for valuable information and data, particular that which has been sent or received by email. Failing to implement security processes to protect their network of smartphones, means organisations are sitting on a security time-bomb, which could threaten the reputation and future of the company itself."

In addition, workers could be downloading unsecure mobile applications to their corporate smartphones, increasing the chances of security being compromised. "The use of ‘rogue’ applications has become a top security concern for many organisations," adds Neil Munroe. "Businesses must ensure employees are aware of the risks of downloading applications to their work handsets by putting a clear policy in place.

"Users should only run applications from a trusted source before submitting information or allowing applications access to files held on other areas of their smartphone. However, our recent survey of consumer attitudes to personal data suggests that the new generation of smartphone users seem to be failing to use the basic security measures. This should be a major concern for employers and the security of their businesses."

Equifax research of consumer attitudes to personal data suggests that nearly one in three respondents who own a smartphone said they use it for online banking, rising to two out of three for 22-25 year olds. Yet 53 per cent of smartphone users admitted they don’t or are not sure if they clear their browser history and 24% don’t always log out of their social network or online banking sites leaving an open door to fraudsters.

"Smartphones can store an enormous amount of personal and business data, but are easily stolen from a bag or a table in a bar, making them the perfect target for fraudsters. Why steal a laptop, when a smartphone can be slipped in a pocket, complete with emails, addresses, passwords and telephone numbers? Businesses are hot on securing their networks when it comes to office computers and laptops, but many forget to do the same with mobiles and smartphones.

"During National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, we are urging businesses to think about the amount of secure data held on staff smartphones. Now is not the time to reduce levels of mobile data protection in an organisation. In a tough economic climate, we’re likely to see a rise in ID fraud and data theft, making it essential that businesses protect themselves.

"A passcode on the phone is the first line of defence, but two thirds of users don’t even have one set up. Office workers can follow our security tips and stop criminals in their tracks."

SMARTPHONE SECURITY TIPS

* Always use the PIN function on your handset
* Don’t store reminders of passwords on your phone
* Think about which accounts you access from your phone – would it be better to wait until you’re in the security of your home?
* Keep an eye out for malicious software masquerading as apps
* Keep your smartphone safe at all times
* Delete all personal information and browsing history before recycling or selling your phone.

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