Keep your mo­bile data theft-proof

Learn why pre­ven­tion is the key to data pro­tec­tion

Woonsocket Call - - VALLEY/NATION -

Af­ter high-pro­file celebrity photo hacks, busi­ness sys­tem data leaks and ques­tions about how well so­cial net­works pro­tect our per­sonal data, you may be in­ter­ested in stepping up your own mo­bile data se­cu­rity.

While pro­tect­ing your data may seem like a chal­leng­ing propo­si­tion, you can take some sim­ple and easy steps to bet­ter pro­tect your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. Fol­low­ing th­ese ex­pert tips will get you on track to a more se­cure mo­bile ex­pe­ri­ence.

Op­ti­miz­ing Face­book, LinkedIn, Google and Ap­ple pri­vacy set­tings is cru­cial, along with any other so­cial net­work­ing or web ap­pli­ca­tions you use. UBS Deputy Head of Fraud Risk Man­age­ment Jamie Howard points out that pri­vacy breaches are not lim­ited to desk­top de­vices. In fact, mo­bile de­vices may be a big­ger risk. “Crim­i­nals now tar­get mo­bile phones specif­i­cally more than com­put­ers.”

Howard con­tin­ues, “There tends to be more per­sonal in­for­ma­tion on there. On your com­puter, you may not have a list of your con­tacts. On your cell phone, they may get email ad­dresses, res­i­den­tial ad­dresses and more in­for­ma­tion they can use to steal iden­ti­ties.”

Each so­cial net­work of­fers de­tailed pri­vacy con­fig­u­ra­tion in­for­ma­tion. Set all of your on­line pro­files so only those who should have ac­cess to your in­for­ma­tion are granted per­mis­sion.

Be aware of where you con­nect

While it is tempt­ing to con­nect to any open in­ter­net net­work to save a few bucks on data, you may be fore­go­ing se­cu­rity. When asked what pub­lic WiFi net­works to avoid, Howard gave a con­cise an­swer: “I wouldn’t con­nect any­where.”

While it is very dif­fi­cult to in­ter­cept cel­lu­lar phone sig­nals, pick­ing up in­for­ma­tion on a shared wire­less net­work is easy for skilled cy­ber crim­i­nals. “If you do need to con­nect to pub­lic WiFi, the rule is sim­ple: Do noth­ing over that con­nec­tion but browse the in­ter­net.”

“Check the foot­ball scores or browse on­line stores,” says Howard, “but any­thing that re­quires you to en­ter per­sonal data, log in to any­thing or pro­vide any credit or bank card in­for­ma­tion, you don’t do on pub­lic WiFi.”

Us­ing a VPN, or vir­tual pri­vate net­work, can boost your data se­cu­rity even fur­ther, as it cre­ates a tun­nel from your de­vice right to a se­cured server. “If you are tech savvy, a VPN is al­ways go­ing to make you sig­nif­i­cantly more safe than not us­ing a VPN.”

Down­load and click with care

Prop­erly con­fig­ured an­tivirus pro­grams are ef­fec­tive at pre­vent­ing some of the worst viruses and mal­ware from get­ting onto your com­puter and phone, but it takes a vig­i­lant at­ti­tude to give your data max­i­mum se­cu­rity.

One of the big­gest sources of threats is emails. “In ex­cess of 99 per­cent of phish­ing emails con­tain some form of mal­ware or ma­li­cious soft­ware,” Howard ex­plains. “The great­est area of cau­tion is open­ing links or emails, re­gard­less if it is on a com­puter or mo­bile phone.”

Never click or down­load if you don’t know it is safe. Even some ma­jor news sites have been hacked and in­fected with ma­li­cious ad­ver­tise­ments in the past. Keeping your phone and apps up­dated of­fers an­other line of de­fense against ma­li­cious ac­tiv­ity.

Your data pri­vacy is in your hands

While you might not think your data is valu­able, Howard says that every web user should con­sider them­selves a le­git­i­mate tar­get. But by taking small steps to­day, you can avoid big has­sles in the fu­ture.

You can be­gin by adding a lock code to your phone, for in­stance, and oc­ca­sion­ally re­mov­ing apps you no longer use; then you can grad­u­ate to in­stalling an­tivirus and VPN soft­ware on your phone, which will thwart many of the prob­lems be­fore they hap­pen. Pre­ven­tion, a buzz­word in the world of data pro­tec­tion, is what mo­bile se­cu­rity is all about.

Christo­pher J. Bouley is vice pres­i­dent of Wealth Man­age­ment at UBS Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Inc., 500 Ex­change Street, Ste 1210, Prov­i­dence, RI 02903. He can be reached at 401-455-6716 or 800-3336303.

CHRIS BOULEY Vice Pres­i­dent-Wealth Man­age­ment UBS Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices

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