Monday, 19 September 2011

Is YOUR mobile phone a security risk?

New research from The Carphone Warehouse has revealed the risks many mobile phone users are taking by not securing their handsets. Over half (54%) of UK adults think their phone and the data on it would be secure, should it be stolen or lost. However, 86% of these people don’t have security software installed on their phones, making them vulnerable to thieves and prying eyes. Interestingly, 89% of us have installed security software onto laptops and computers, however the interest in security does not seem to run through to mobile phones.

As phones become more sophisticated and sales of smartphones rise, thieves are on high alert for opportunities to bag new handsets, meaning mobile security becomes increasingly important for users. Today’s research, questioning over 2,000 people, highlighted the lack of awareness on the importance of protecting personal data. The Carphone Warehouse is launching Mobile Phone Security Week to educate consumers on the simple steps that can be made to secure mobile devices. All week, the Carphone Warehouse is providing in-store advice from their security trained staff. As well as in store, you can access tips and information at

Mobile phones are obvious targets for thieves and - given how much we now rely on them - a lost handset can cost you more than just money. Half of people (49%) admitted to using their mobile phone to buy music, clothes and even insurance online, meaning their account details are logged on their phones and accessible should their phone be lost or stolen.

It’s not just our account details at risk, as almost a third (74%) of people cite using their phones to take personal photos - and keep them stored on the handset. David Rogers, Mobile Phone Security Expert says there are easy steps we can be taking to protect our privacy; “While technology is evolving, there are easy ways you can keep your data safe and secure when using a mobile phone.

For example, remembering PINs and passwords can be time consuming, but they are a simple and necessary way to deter any prying ears from accessing your handset or hearing your voicemail.”

Smartphones provide easy access to emails, making it more common than ever to be working outside the traditional office space. You can be on the train, in a coffee-shop or in a hotel, but flexibility in the devices and wireless networks we use means important confidential information is easily accessible. There has never been a more important time to protect yourself against being a victim of ID fraud via your mobile technology.

It seems that the thought of setting up security software may be daunting as 65% of the UK adults surveyed claimed they don’t have a password on their voicemail, even though one third (32%) of people worry that their phones are not very secure.

Matt Stringer, UK MD from The Carphone Warehouse said, “We’ve seen a real increase in smartphone users over the past year with roughly 85% of handsets sold last year with a postpay connection being smartphones. The more sophisticated the handsets become, the more attractive they are to thieves. The Carphone Warehouse can provide easy and inexpensive solutions that can save a lot of worry in the long term.

What’s more, Geek Squad’s Protect & Detect service has been specially designed to provide security for smartphones, including a free online hub to all Geek Squad customers, where they have access to unlimited online backup so their important data stays safe at all times. In addition Geek Squad agents can also help install mobile security packages such as Bull Guard* in store, which not only protects data, but provides the ability to track a phone should it be stolen via an Antitheft GPS Tracker. At The Carphone Warehouse we’ve worked with mobile security expert, David Rogers to pull together a list of top tips which we hope people will find useful to stay safe and secure in future.”

Available from The Carphone Warehouse or 0800 925 925

*Bull Guard Mobile Security is compatible with Android and BlackBerry devices.

For more information about Best Buy in the UK, go to

Geek Squad, part of Best Buy Europe and a Best Buy Inc. owned company, is a 24/7 technology support service, available in all new Best Buy stores across the UK. Geek Squad provide technology support in store, over the phone, remotely through your computer, or via visits to your home. Geek Squad currently has a UK-wide network of Agents able to solve your tech problems, and can draw on knowledge from 20,000 other Agents across the world.

For more information about Geek Squad in the UK, go to

The Carphone Warehouse’s top tips to protecting personal data

1. Record your phone’s identity number in case it is stolen
The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is what identifies your phone to the network and is located on the back of your phone underneath the battery. You can register your phone’s details and IMEI number on the UK National Property Register at: This helps the Police to return lost or stolen property to its correct owner.
2. Secure access to your device and voicemail
PINs and passwords can be a pain as they put a barrier in the way of things you do repeatedly. Firstly, voicemail. It is extremely important to have a PIN on your voicemail to prevent people listening into your private messages. Don’t choose obvious PINs e.g. 1111, 1234, dates of birth etc. Make use of the handset locks to protect your data and messages.
3. Learn how to remotely lock and wipe your phone if you lose it
Losing your phone or having it stolen does happen and when it does, what do you do to prevent someone getting access to your work or personal data? This is where lock and wipe services come in. Many handsets are now capable of running applications which allow you to stop someone getting access to your data and if you’re sure you can’t recover it, to delete your data. Some services can even help you locate your lost phone by using the GPS function of the device to work out where it is.
4. Be very wary of WiFi hotspots
However tempting it may be to connect to free WiFi when you’re out and about, take a moment to consider who is providing that service and why. If they’re charging, who are you giving your credit card details to? By connecting to an untrusted network, you could potentially allow an attacker to get into your accounts for social networking sites, your email and banking details.
5. Know what you are giving applications permission to do
Always think about what an application is supposed to be doing, where it came from and who made it. Simple internet searches can often verify the validity of an application if you suspect all is not well. Inspect the permissions that an application requests. While Apple and Android have monitoring in process, a common practice amongst hackers is to create a fake copy of a genuine application and host it on an alternative, unmonitored app store. This might be free on a separate site, to entice people to download it. Sadly, the free version is a “Trojan horse” and will do nasty things.
6. Be careful when clicking on web links and scanning 2D barcodes
Don’t be lured into clicking on an unknown link to a web page. A phone’s screen is much smaller and it is often more difficult to see a full link to a website and verify that it is what it says it is. New technology allows barcode scanner applications to read 2D or Quick Response (QR) codes (kind of like square barcodes). These are often put in newspapers and on advertising boards. Be very careful – do you know and trust the source. Could the poster have been tampered with or be fake?
7. Always backup your data
This is something that is always on the to-do list but never quite gets done. Take a little time to think about what would happen if you lost your phone, phone numbers and photographs and how it would affect you. Then think about what you can do to mitigate that.
8. Be careful when charging your phone on someone else’s computer or at a charge point
Be extra careful if you desperately need to charge your phone while out and about. A lot of phones combine a data connection with the charger so you could end up having your data stolen without realising it. Who is providing the service? Do you have to handover your phone to have it charged?
9. Protect your children whilst surfing
Kids often know more than their parents when it comes to new technology. Whilst a phone can give you peace of mind that your child is safe when out and about, it also has access to lots of functionality and content that you might not want to allow your child access to at home. There are some applications available that can be installed on mobiles to help you manage what your child can access or download. You can get a shop to set these up for you and set a password so that your settings can only be changed by you. Some great information on protecting your children online can also be found in The Carphone Warehouse’s Guide to Mobile Web Safety

1 comment:

  1. And the answer is YES!
    Cell phones cause a lot of serious problems to personal security. First of all, they send info about your location to your GSM provider approximately every 30 mins. Secondly, they can be used to steal valuable info that is stored on the phone. Also there are such devices that can connect to your mobile phone so someone can hear everything that you or someone around you say.

    Alex White