Don’t forget, your cell phone is a computer.
Have you ever been to a public place and noticed unattended cell phones? While you may respect your neighbor’s property, everyone doesn’t have that same respect. Thieves will pick up unattended cell phones but cell phones theft has been reduced. Cell phones can be blacklisted and unable to be activated on many service providers. A cell phone may also allow the rightful owner to track its location. Imagine the look on a cell phone thief’s face when the police knock on their door. Stealing cell phones is not a good idea.
Cell phone theft might not yield any huge rewards to criminals but compromising a cell phone could provide much more value than the phone itself. There are programs to turn cell phones into listening devices. Corporate and government spies have turned cell phones into listening devices for sensitive meetings. Telephone calls and text messages may also be snooped. Unfaithful spouses have been exposed with cell phone hacks.
The good news is that these spy programs can’t be installed out of the blue. A hacker needs physical access to your phone to install the program. Would you hand you wallet to stranger? Would you leave your wallet unattended in a public place? Our cell phones can tell a lot about us. Cell phones should be secured and in your pocket just like a wallet unless you are using it. It should not be left on a table in a restaurant.
Use common sense when opening an email or text message. Don’t execute any programs from anyone unless you know the sender actually sent the program and that the program is not infected with something. Do you have a virus scanner on your cell phone? Don’t forget that the best virus scanner will not protect someone who opens everything sent to them.
Have you ever seen cell phone charging stations in airports? Don’t plug your USB charging cable into any unknown charging locations. You might not notice anything unusual but all of your pictures, email, and other private information could be stolen or a spy program could be installed. During a recent high profile theft that included jewelry worth millions, the biggest concern was over a cell phone. The stolen address book and contact information has a lot of people worried.
You might use common sense with your private information but what about friends and relatives? You may practice safe data policies but it doesn’t matter if people with your information are careless with it.
If you suspect that your phone may have been hacked or that it is not working properly, reset the phone to its factory state. If you don’t know how, ask your cell phone provider.