Mobile Device Security

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Mobile devices have become increasingly popular over the last ten to fifteen years. The number of mobile phone users exploded in the late nineteen-nineties and the early two-thousands and these days the vast majority of people own a mobile phone. More recently tablets have become the craze, with the number of users increasing continuously. Both mobile phones and tablets are being used for a variety of tasks, both business related and for personal tasks. There are undoubtedly many benefits to using mobile devices, including being able to carry out tasks from anywhere. One thing they are used for is to gain internet access when on the move. While this has obvious advantages there is also one potential downside: security.

An increasing number of mobile devices now allow users to gain access to the internet. However, these don’t always have the security that computers and laptops do. Most people who use desktop and laptop computers install firewalls and anti-virus software to protect against potential dangers. This is not usually the case, though, with mobile devices. Users often obliviously use them without taking into consideration security issues. Many users access the internet over a mobile device in the same way as they would with any other device.

For a number of years it has been common for people to read up on news and access emails via a mobile phone. It has now reached a stage where smart phones and tablets are often being used to carry out business tasks. A particular danger is that people are carrying out internet banking over their mobile devices. Carrying out these tasks without the necessary security measures means there is the potential for security problems.

Using Wi-Fi hotspots is something that carries a particular danger. It is not the most secure of environments. As it is not a wired connection and anyone with an enabled device can access them, it makes Wi-Fi hotspots the wild west of internet access. While users are accessing the internet in this way it makes them particularly susceptible to being hacked, something that can be relatively easy for those with the required knowledge.

Hackers have targeted regular computers for years. With more internet enabled mobile devices than ever before it means it could only be a matter of time before criminals target these as well. And as things stands, they are possibly an easier target.

There are potential security issues with mobile devices, but that doesn’t mean it is time to panic and stop using them for accessing the internet. There are things that can be done to limit the chances of suffering from security problems. Using mobile devices sensibly is one of these. If security cannot be guaranteed then not carrying out tasks like internet banking and making payments over mobile devices is wise. Intercepting these are the things that could most likely lead to financial loss. Using a VPN is another option. A VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, can be used to enhance security. They use encryption to make sure the transfer of data – in this case between a mobile device and the internet – is not interpreted by others. Many mobile devices have encryption options installed, although they are not always automatically switched on. Users should, therefore, ensure that these are enabled at all times.

While the main benefit of a mobile device is that it can be easily transported, taking it everywhere means they are commonly misplaced. It is important, therefore, to make sure anyone who finds a lost device does not have easy access to any data that they can use for sinister means.

Mobile devices have many benefits but security is a concern. However, if the right precautions are in place and users use them sensibly then they can be protected against.

Andrew Marshall ©

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