With more than 120 million Americans using smartphones for everything from online banking to accessing corporate networks in the course of their daily jobs, mobile security has quickly become one of the key elements in protecting against a host of digital threats and the risk presented by the loss or theft of a device. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in conjunction with several other federal agencies and private sector partners, has released a simple tool dubbed the Smartphone Security Checker to assist users in ensuring they have taken the necessary precautions to adequately protect themselves and to further promote mobile device security best practices.
The tool is the result of collaboration between the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security, the NCSA, the Federal Trade Commission, wireless communications trade group the CTIA, mobile device producer BlackBerry, private risk management consultancy the Chertoff Group, and security providers Lookout, Sophos, McAfee, and Symantec, among others.
“With less than half of smartphone owners using passwords to protect their devices, this new tool will be of particular value to millions of Americans. The holiday gift-giving season is a perfect time to remind consumers to take simple steps, like setting a password, to protect themselves from mobile security threats," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Though geared at a consumer-oriented audience, the Smartphone Security Checker tool provides a set of key security protocols that can be utilized in corporate mobile security policy development and employee awareness training, a critical aspect of enterprise security with the proliferation of employee-owned devices being used in the workplace, a trend commonly referred to as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
"The Smartphone Security Checker features best practices on how to set pins and passwords, where to find security apps, how to enable remote locating and data wiping, and how to backup and secure your data in case your device is lost or stolen. There is also information on how to safely use public Wi-Fi networks and what steps to take if your phone is stolen," the FCC explains.
Smartphone users simply select from a list which mobile device they use and they are redirected to a set of security recommendations and steps to take which are specific to the operating system, be it Apple iOS, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows.
While the security savvy will most likely find the recommendations to be quite remedial, they do provide an easy to understand set of basic guidelines and a checklist of commonly underutilized mobile device security precautions that can and should be undertaken by those less likely to understand how simple it is to increase their level of protection against malicious actors, which in the end increases the overall security posture for everyone.
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