Be Smart with Your Smart Phone

How to keep your sensitive information secure when using your smartphone or iPhone on campus

As the rate of computer and internet related crimes continues to rise (viruses, email scams, identity theft), cell phones are not often thought of as a hotbed for crime activity.  When using a smartphone connected to both the world wide web and landline telephone systems, your mobile phone can be just as accessible to thieves as your home or work computer.  Mobile email, banking, bill payments, and other shortcuts can all give criminals direct access to your personal information at the touch of a button. 

There are several steps that can be taken to tighten security on your smartphone or iPhone.  You may not be able to stop a thief from stealing your phone, but, with a little extra time, you can take all protective measures to keep your information secure if your phone should turn up missing.


Log Out!

Applications such as Facebook, online banking, and mobile bill payment programs usually remain open once the user has logged in.  If someone were to walk by and pick up your phone, they would have instant access to all of these applications and any personal information located within.  This can easily be prevented by simply logging out when you are finished with each program.  By spending a few extra seconds logging in and out, you can save yourself a lot more than time in the long run.


Use the security features you are given.

Almost every phone has some type of password that can be activated, requiring the user to type in a code before they turn on a phone or wake it from sleeping.  While typing a code every time you use your phone may be an inconvenience, it is the easiest way to secure your phone from a thief, and, best of all, it is free.

-iPhones have an optional feature that will wipe the device after 10 failed password attempts.

-Symbian run phones have a setting that completely locks the phone if another SIM card is inserted.


Anti-Theft Software

Consider furthering security through the use of third-party software.  These programs are set up to track your phone from another location and some even offer remote access to you phone.  Some applications are free, while others can run upwards of $20.

 iPhone

 Blackberry 

 Symbian/Nokia

 Windows Mobile

 Android G1


Clear it before you trash it.

Old phones that are thrown away or sold usually still contain past owners' data somewhere in the phone.  Even if you think you have deleted everything and there is nothing left in the phone that connects it to you, you might be wrong.  

Before you upgrade to a new phone, follow these steps to ensure you information is erased:

  1. Completely delete all contacts, emails, photos, videos, and text messages from your phone.
  2. Conduct a "factory reset" or "zero-out reset" to ensure that your data has been securely erased.
  3. Consider recycling your phone to further ensure your security.  Trusted companies such as CollectiveGood Icon indicated a new window/tab will be opened by pressing link recycle mobile phones free of charge.