Take the “Steal Me!!!” Sign Off Your Electronic Devices

Posted By On Sunday, March 11th, 2012

I’m cynical enough to believe that if a bad guy really wants to get information on you they will- so there’s no sense worrying about it. But I recently read a couple of articles on smartphone and wifi security that offer some easy and practical ways to help avoid hacking and identity theft- or at least tell you how to take the “Steal Me!!!!” sign off your back.

First of all, it’s important to realize that most people’s smart phones are windows into their personal and financial lives. Your contacts are there, where you’ve been is there, any accounts that you have set to automatically log in to are there- if you do online banking on your phone, THAT information is there.

Symantec did an experiment and “lost” 50 smart phones with simulated corporate and personal data on them. They also were able to monitor the activity on the phones once they were “found”.

Results:
Only half of the people made any attempt to return the phone and even the people who did try to return them also tried to access the phone 96% of the time. This may have started out as an attempt to find the owner, but:

  • Six out of 10 finders attempted to view social media company information and email.
  • Eight out of 10 finders tried to access corporate information, including files clearly marked as “HR Salaries,” “HR Cases”, and other types of corporate information.
  • If you’re a consumer, the experiment showed that your email, social media and photos are going to be viewed, but half the finders tried to access the bank accounts!

Two practical recommendations came out of the experiment:

  1. Use a screen lock feature and make sure you have a strong password to unlock it.
  2. Use smartphone security software. It can stop criminals from stealing info and spying on you while you’re on a public network and also can help you locate a lost phone or lock it and even remotely wipe the data.

Another article talks about security on a wifi network- which can be easily broken with a device as cheap as $89.99- so anyone walking around a mall or trade show can hack your device.

  1. Turn off wifi and use a 3g or 4g stick instead.
  2. Avoid open wifi networks and use those that are password protected.
  3.  Change your computer settings so it no longer remembers previous open networks and erase the list of preferred networks- it will be somewhat of a bother to login again but it’s better than having your computer being an open target to anyone who wants to access it.

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