Each of us has, sometime or the other, received an SMS saying that we are lucky winners of a jackpot. It promises us a large sum of money provided we provide our bank details, or if we deposit a required amount in the sender's bank account.
While most people do delete such emails, there are some who fall prey to it. It is just one of several ways in which “tech-burglars” try to steal information from mobile phone users and rob them of their money.
Apart from having a database of all the owner's contacts, the mobile phone has important data related to the owner's identity, passwords, banking, and work details. Mobile phones are used today for an increasing number of functions, from banking and online payments to staying connected with friends in real time.
It is critical to protect the identity of the owner and to keep safe passwords that are used to allow access to confidential personal data.
It is especially so because phones cannot be customised unlike personal computers, where users can install firewalls.
“You do not have that kind of firewalls because phones are not customised,” says Balaji Kutty, Chief Technology Officer, Mobiser Technology. The operating systems that some smart phones run on are very proprietary, which is a major concern.
Many phones, particularly intelligent phones (such as iPhone and Android-based phones), store a lot of information about the owner.
Such phones can be tracked easily, and there is very little the owner can do about it. The more intelligent a phone is, the more trackable it is. For instance, with GPRS, it is easy to know the user's location and movement. “I would say, as far as possible, use such smart phones in a very limited way,” he says.
Keep within eyeshot
The phone, much like other valuables, must be within eyeshot. Mr. Kutty says that owners must not leave the phone unattended just as they would not leave a PC open when it is in use. Android phones are used commonly and owners must ensure that they do not leave such phones on the table, especially with the session open.
Also, do not allow children to play with the phones as they may unwittingly access websites, he says.
To avoid ending up as a victim of scams, one should be wary of ‘vishing', that is, fake voice messages and phone calls that seek personal information such as the users identity and password details.