Smart phones may be even more aptly named than was once thought. They allow you to check e-mail, surf the Internet, listen to music, take photos — and with the right application, answer just about any question on the fly. The phones are more immune to viruses than traditional computers, but users still need to be careful to protect the wealth of data the phones contain.
"People in America carry three things," technology expert Mario Armstrong tells Steve Inskeep. "Your wallet, your keys and your mobile phone."
Clearly, Armstrong says, there is a large enough market for cybercrooks. So why are PCs more vulnerable to viruses?
The simple answer: It's harder to have a concentrated attack on cell phones when so many different service providers and mobile operating systems exist. And because most people tend to still use computers when it comes to important functions, like banking or inputting a Social Security number, PCs remain a more profitable market.
In the past five years, there have been about 500 mobile virus attacks, compared with millions against PCs in that same period.
But Armstrong says cell phone users shouldn't be passive about their mobile security. With the large amounts of data that live on mobile phones, especially smart phones, it's still important to be careful when it comes to protecting phones from theft and hackers.
Following are some suggestions from Armstrong to keep your smart phone safe.
Quick Tips To Protect Your Phone
Create a PIN code. It's usually a four-digit numeric combination that is required to access the data on a mobile device.
Be wary of unknown text messages. If you don't recognize the sender or the message is unfamiliar, do not open the message or click on any Internet links within the message.
Disable Bluetooth. In public areas, others can detect your phone and access its data through Bluetooth. If that happens, you will be sent a message alerting you. But it's often safer to turn Bluetooth off or put it in non-discoverable mode.
Know your apps. Make sure applications come from trusted sources. You can check the sources by researching the companies that are distributing the app.
Upgrade the firmware. Visit your phone manufacturer's Web site to download the latest firmware.
Back it up. Especially for smart phones that contain large amounts of data, it's important to periodically back up your device in case it's lost or stolen.
Be alert at Wi-Fi hot spots. In public spaces where your phone is using a Wi-Fi network, be careful about conducting sensitive business on your phone, like banking.
Use anti-virus software. And if you don't feel secure, you can purchase anti-virus software for your mobile device from companies like Norton, Trend Micro and McAfee.