What are My Risks with My Mobile Device?

Mobile technology is the new frontier for fraudsters. Today, there are more wireless devices than American people. Mobile devices connect to the Internet and have much of the same information and capability as a personal computer.

Your device and the private data it holds are very, very attractive to thieves. Yet, most of us don’t protect our smartphones or tablets—and the private information they contain—anywhere near as well as we do our wallets and PCs.

We make life easy for them. The places and ways that we use smartphones and tablets offer new chances for criminals to catch us off our guards—in the coffee shop, on the train, while shopping. When we are using our mobile devices, we usually have other things happening around us as well as on the device. We are easily distracted. And we want what we want now. Click to download. Click to view. Click to get a free app. Few of us take the time to “think before we click.”

We store passwords, bank account information, photos, and all our contacts on these devices so we can be even more fast and efficient as we live our mobile lives. That’s why 51% of us would rather lose our wallets than our mobile phones.

Some of the things you can expose yourself to if you don’t protect your mobile device include:

Financial fraud: Someone takes over your bank account, extracts money, or sets up a premium text scam where you pay for messages you don’t want.

Identity theft: By having information about you, someone can pretend to be you and sign up for credit cards, identity papers—even buy a car. It can take years to recover your good name.

Privacy loss: Someone gets information about you that you don’t want out there, including social network activities, GPS location, searches, texts, instant messages, downloads and app usage. This information could be just embarrassing—or it could cost you a friendship, a job, your credit rating or a chance for college.

Losing your device: In addition to having to buy a new device (unsubsidized by the operator), you can give a thief the information needed for the fraud, identity theft and privacy loss mentioned above.

To ensure that you protect your smartphone and tablet you should:

Don’t click on links in texts or emails, since these links may actually point toward malicious downloads

Keep your device with you, don’t let it out of your sight and don’t share it with others.

Make sure to have a pass code on your device and set it to auto-lock after a certain period of time

Before downloading any app, check other users’ reviews to see if it is safe, and read the app’s privacy policy to make sure that it is not sharing your personal information

Carefully review your mobile phone bills for any anomalies

Use comprehensive mobile security that include anti-theft, antivirus and web protection like McAfee Mobile Security or McAfee All Access

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  (Disclosures)