FCC to Help Protect Your Mobile Privacy

On my way to Prague last month, I decided to pick up May’s print volume of PC Today. Coincidentally, the entire volume was focused on security.

The first article that caught my attention was about the Federal Communications Commission’s plans to help the victims of phone theft. The article goes on to say, “… when a given phone is reported stolen, wireless carriers can remotely shut down that phone.” What does this mean for you, the consumer?

First of all, the FCC is attempting to protect victims of data and identity theft. However, more than likely your data will be long retrieved by the time you notice your phone is stolen and call the wireless provider.

Secondly, the article cites the FCC’s statistic that 40% of New York City robberies are that of mobile phones. However, I doubt that the majority of those were for the purpose of data theft but rather for the theft of the hardware itself.

If you’re concerned about the data and identity theft aspect of losing your phone, you can take several steps to mitigate that risk:

  1. Don’t store sensitive data on your phone. This is pretty common sense. You wouldn’t want your credit card information easily accessible, but who stores that on their phone anyway? What’s more common is saving e-mail passwords and allowing the thief to gain easy access to your personal, or even more sensitive corporate e-mails.
  2. Another layer of passwords, such as locking access to your phone with a 4 digit number, is another excellent way to deter thieves.
  3. Use the software that comes with your phone. Instead of relying on the wireless carrier to deactivate the phone, or even to support the feature, use software that is prepackaged. For example, Apple’s iPhone comes with a nifty feature called Find My iPhone that can help you erase all of the data remotely. The article did not specify whether the FCC was going to require this for all wireless carriers.

In the digital age of today, our eyes are glued to our mobile phones. Don’t become a victim of mobile theft and make sure to have that phone glued to your side.

How else do you think the FCC can help?

Teaching Security to the Hopeless

One of my Twitter followers suggested that I write about security tips for the technically challenged. Instantly, I thought about my last visit home.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll notice that your friends, your family, and even people you rarely interact with always turn to you with their computer troubles. Sometimes, the questions are easy to answer, like recommending anti-virus software. Other times, you get the friend or family member that is technically savvy enough to follow your advice. Unfortunately, most of the time you get to deal with the hopeless, my parents being a prime example.¬†Luckily my mother doesn’t read this blog. If she did, I’d get an earful on my next visit home.

Below are some easy tips you can recommend to those you may be hearing from a bit too much:

  1. Don’t just click next. When installing a piece of software, read each page of the installation. Many software companies now ask you to install a toolbar and if you don’t opt-out you may end up with browsing the Internet with¬†this.
  2. Be vigilant while browsing. If you search Google for “car rentals,” make sure you select a search result that looks credible, like Hertz. This sounds obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone get infected by clicking the first link or advertisement.
  3. Buy your anti-virus software. Okay, that may be stretching it but make sure your anti-virus is scheduled to update continuously. Most full versions of anti-virus software have automatic updating enabled by default.
  4. You don’t have any friends trying to sell you Viagra, I promise. Don’t open e-mails from senders you don’t recognize. More importantly, don’t open attachments unless you absolutely trust the sender.

With these quick tips, I was able to significantly reduce the number of calls from my parents. Leave a comment to share what’s worked for you!