Consumerwatch: Securing your smartphone
Published Monday, January 7, 2013 11:57AM CST
Last Updated Sunday, November 24, 2013 5:10PM CST
If you have a smartphone or tablet, chances are you’ve downloaded applications or apps.
The come in the form of games, social media sites, music, photo sharing programs and everything in between.
But if your phone ended up in the wrong hands, unlocking all the information found inside those apps could just be a tap or click away. That’s because those apps are largely left unprotected on devices.
Now, popular antivirus software McAfee has launched an updated version of its mobile security software that features “Applock”. With it, apps can only be unlocked with a password or Personal Identification Number or PIN.
“It could be Facebook, LinkedIn or Gmail - often on a smartphone those applications don’t disconnect, so this adds and added layer of protection by putting a PIN on the application,” said Brenda Moretto, McAfee’s Canadian Consumer Manager.
The software costs $30 for a one-year subscription. An Internet security expert based in Winnipeg says it’s worth the cost.
“These phones are the most intimate digital diary we’ve ever had,” said Michael Legary, chief strategy officer at Seccuris Inc. “When there’s an issue, this [is] everything about your personal identity, so protecting it is paramount.”
The software scans a device and provides users with a checklist of security concerns. It also shows users how their personal information is being used when an app is downloaded.
"Without something like McAfee Mobile Security protecting and choosing what you do with your data, these applications could be using and selling your information to others,” said Legary.
But McAfee isn’t the only mobile security software on the market.
Legary said Google Bouncer and Avast Antivirus are good, but offer limited functionality compared to paid-for products. Norton, Kapersky and F-secure are also good free options, advised Legary.
Still, Legary cautioned that neither free or paid packages guarantee protection against malicious software or viruses as new threats to applications and software are being discovered constantly. So, he said people should back up their data and to add pins and passwords to programs on their devices wherever they can.
- with a report from Karen Rocznik