FCC offers ‘Smartphone Security Checker’

Emphasizing the increased risks posed by mobile security threats, the Federal Communications Commission yesterday released a Smartphone Security Checker to encourage mobile device owners to better protect themselves and make use of various security tools that are available. The Security Checker is the result of a partnership between government experts, smartphone developers, and private IT and security companies, including Lookout, McAfee, Symantec and others.

There are more than 120 million smartphone owners in the U.S. and 20 million new mobile devices are expected to be unwrapped this Holiday season. As the processing power and the amount of sensitive data stored on smartphones increases, the FCC believes it’s time that consumers treated these devices the same way they treat computers.

“With less than half of smartphone owners using passwords to protect their devices, this new tool will be of particular value to millions of Americans,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “The holiday gift-giving season is a perfect time to remind consumers to take simple steps, like setting a password, to protect themselves from mobile security threats.”

While the FCC separates its customized security steps and tips by operating system – Apple iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows – the recommendations are essentially the same; the only differences being links to more information on each individual system.

While the Smartphone Security Checker goes into more detail on why each step is important, the headline for each recommendation provides a great checklist for both experienced and first-time smartphone users:

  1. Set PINs and passwords.
  2. Do not modify your smartphone’s security settings.
  3. Backup and secure your data.
  4. Only install apps from trusted sources.
  5. Understand app permissions before accepting them.
  6. Install security apps that enable remote location and wiping.
  7. Accept updates and patches to your smartphone’s software.
  8. Be smart on open Wi-Fi networks.
  9. Wipe data on your old phone before you donate, resell or recycle it.
  10. Report a stolen smartphone.

For more information and resources on mobile and cybersecurity, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect.™ Campaign at www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.

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