Why Does It Feel Like My Cell Phone Makes My Data Vulnerable
Yes, losing data is a real thing. In all likelihood, it will probably not happen to you or your company via your cell phone. But why does it feel like your personal or company’s cell phones are so vulnerable? Maybe your data is not that vulnerable to loss. Maybe the media latches on to one-off stories like these of the gal who took an iPad and this other more famous gal who took pictures of herself on an iPad and the pics were automatically synced to the original owners iPhone. (By the way, both were caught).
Maybe we don’t fully understand how we actually lose our data.
When most people, including me, hear the phrase “data loss” they think of their name, social security number, credit card numbers. That gets my attention pretty quickly, too, because I do not want my bank account hacked or credit cards used; I do not want the hassles associated with calling all of my banks and credit cards to get replacements. I do not want to become a victim of identity theft either. And, some people may even respond to the idea of “losing your data” with fairly strong emotions. I know a couple that cuts the address label off of every single piece of mail they receive in order to “prevent identity left.”
Well, let’s take the time to understand a few ideas about data and data loss first:
What Data Loss Is
- unauthorized access to your bank and credit card accounts
- unauthorized access private company emails, pictures, files, documents
- unauthorized access anything covered by a NDA (non disclosure agreement)
- your social security number
- your medical history
- proprietary software, recipes, ideas, inventions, client purchasing data, any data, etc…
What Data Loss Is Not
- Losing or misplacing your phone does not mean data loss
- If your phone is stolen it does not mean you will lose data
- Someone buying stuff on your iTunes account is not data loss
- An unexplained charge on your cell phone bill is not data loss
- When your smart phone crashes and you need to replace it – that is not data loss either
- forgetting to clear out some selfies of you at the ball game or a picture of your food or a picture of your dog is not data loss either
Hassles And Inconveniences
Certainly, every one of those scenarios where you have to call your cell phone carrier will be an inconvenience for you. A couple of years ago, someone guessed my iTunes password and I spent about an hour with Paypal and with iTunes to get it cleared up. It took my time, but it was easy. That is an example of me not having a strong password that lead to an inconvenience. So the worst-case scenario is that you may lose some time while you work to replace your phone or ask Paypal for a refund. But, none of those situations makes your data more vulnerable to loss.
So what does make your personal or your company data more vulnerable to loss? In my experience, it is almost always YOU. You make your data easy to look at by doing some of the following. I was the one that did not have a strong password on my iTunes account. I was the one responsible for that hassle. I did talk to a friend who works in mobile security for one of Kansas City’s largest employers. The first thing he said was, “…don’t be blatantly stupid.” He added these 5 tips to pass along to help you be better at securing your cell or smart phone.
Don’t Be Blatantly Stupid
- Use a screen lock on your phone – ALWAYS!
- Do not put a folder on the “homepage” of your phone and call it “passwords” and store your bank, iTunes, Gmail, etc. login info there
- Do not use Dropbox or Google Drive or a similar app. on your phones without password protection
- Use strong passwords and different passwords for each different account you have
- When recycling your device, remember that it is super easy to master reset and clear all data off of your phone
There you have it: A few simple steps that will help YOU reduce or even eliminate some cell phone inconveniences and hassles. Don’t subscribe to the media-induced paranoia. No one needs to be fed a stream of worry and fear to address the security of your cell phone or smart phone. There are logical strategies to use to keep your phone secure. There are even great applications that anyone can use. And, there are simple, common sense steps to take to help keep your phone secure. You and any IT manager, wireless manager, or security manager do not need to make data security decisions based on fear.
In Part 2, I am going to tell you a story about how some mobile management / mobile security companies trick you into being scared about the “data losses” that occur because of smart phones.