Back when mobile telephones were first introduced in the 1980s, nobody could have predicted just how ubiquitous they would become, or how much we would come to rely on them as a tool for convenience. Today, we use mobile phones and tablets not just for communication, but for all kinds of functions, including social networking, banking and shopping.
Needless to say, as the functionality of mobile devices has increased, so has the amount of personal information we pour into them. Often our social networking profiles contain a huge amount of information about our personal lives and, likewise, financial information is often stored on our mobiles to make accessing our bank balance easier. It’s imperative that we treat our smartphones and tablets exactly the same as our PCs, and ensure that they are as secure as possible.
Even something as simple as downloading an app can pose a security risk. This is why apps on Apple’s iOS must be approved before they are offered for sale in the App Store. Tight regulation of third-party apps goes a long way towards preventing users from downloading malicious software onto their device. If you choose to ‘jailbreak’ (essentially circumvent these restrictions), your phone or tablet, however, to open it up to a much wider range of software, you device will be at greater risk. Android devices are much more diverse, so there are more apps and less regulation, but also increasing the risk that user data may be compromised in some way.
Thankfully, mobile security has come along in leaps and bounds in recent years, with an array of security apps developed for both personal and business use, and security improvements made to many operating systems. On the app front, most perform similar functions to the antivirus software that can be found on PCs and laptops. Apps like Max Mobile Security aim both to secure your communications and deal with any malicious software that your device may have picked up.
More interestingly, perhaps, are the changes that are being made to the operating systems of the smartphones themselves. We are beginning to see a clear distinction between personal and business security. For example, BlackBerry has just released a new family of smartphones for the latest BlackBerry 10 OS that aim to avoid the security issues that crop up when business and personal use overlaps. The ‘Balance’ feature prevents accidental sharing of information by separating the phone into two distinct ‘personal’ and ‘corporate’ modes, allowing you to choose what and how you share with colleagues or friends.
As things stand, your mobile device is essentially as secure as you want it to be. More business-focused products generally offer greater security in the form of extra features, but it would not be at all surprising to see this kind of functionality make its way to all mobile devices in the future. Although there’s definitely still a long way to go, in terms of keeping mobile connections secure, developments are headed in the right direction.