FCC Web Tool Offers Tips for Smartphone Security

— December 26, 2012

The FCC and its public and private sector partners released a new online tool, the "Smartphone Security Checker," to help consumers protect their mobile devices this holiday season.

The "Smartphone Security Checker" is a free, easy-to-use tool that creates a 10-step smartphone action plan to help consumers protect their mobile devices from smartphone-related cybersecurity threats. Almost half of Americans now own a smartphone and close to 20% have been the victim of mobile cybercrime. The FCC worked with smartphone security experts from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The Federal Trade Commission, The National Cyber Security Alliance, CTIA-The Wireless Association, Lookout, and other public and private sector partners on these mobile security best practices. Consumers can access the "Smartphone Security Checker" here.

The "Smartphone Security Checker" enables consumers to create a customized 10-step security checklist tailored to their smartphone's operating system (Apple iOS, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone).

The new "Smartphone Security Checker" includes information on how to:

  • Set pins and passwords for your smartphone
  • Download security apps that enable remote locating and data wiping
  • Back-up the data on your smartphone if your device is lost or stolen
  • Wipe data on your old phone and where to go to donate, resell or recycle it
  • Safely use public Wi-Fi networks and learn what steps to take if your phone is stolen
Consumers need to protect themselves against growing smartphone security threats
  • Less than 1 in 20 smartphones and tablets have third party security software installed in them, according to Juniper Research.
  • Less than 50% of smartphone owners use password protection on their devices, says McAfee.
  • According to Kaspersky Lab, more than 40% of smartphone users have no antivirus software on their smartphones.
  • Every 3.5 seconds, according to Lookout, one American loses his/herphone, adding up to more than $30 billion in annual losses.
  • According to a recent study, a total of 24,794 mobile malware threats were detected in 2011, a 367% rise over 6,760 threats in 2010, says NQ Mobile.
  • In 2011, Symantec reports that a single data breach per compromised record, which includes mobile devices, averaged $194.
The FCC continues to help consumers understand and combat cyber threats and mobile device theft. In April 2012, the FCC launched the 'PROTECTS Initiative' to combat mobile device theft and trafficking. PROTECTS enables consumers to call their wireless provider to report their wireless devices stolen, which allows their provider to deactivate the device and prevent it from being used on other networks.
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In October 2012, Chairman Genachowski announced the release of the Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0 as well as an updated Cybersecurity Tip Sheet.
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FCC is also a participating agency in the public/private National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) partnership led by NIST. The NICE partnership runs the Stop. Think. Connect. Campaign, which is designed to raise awareness and generate new strategies to strengthen cybersecurity.

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