Recently by Bill Rounds: Don't Let The British Kidnap Your Children Too!
International spy thrillers always feature some really cool top secret spy tools. But you don’t have to be Angelina Jolie or Daniel Craig to have a spy tool that is almost as powerful as anything seen at the cinema. In the hands of a silver screen spy, a smartphone would contain all of the contacts, top secret communications, sensitive files and killer applications that would make them seem super human. And the best part is, we can turn our own smartphones into our own top secret spy tools. But how do you keep the data on your smartphone from falling into the hands of an arch enemy?
1. Password Protect
Password protecting your phone isn’t just to prevent butt-dialing. It keeps people out of your phone and out of all the personal information in there. All phones allow you to protect access with a password. If your phone allows it, using a password longer than 4 characters is more secure, although more annoying.
2. Enable Remote Locking Capabilities
Some people lose their phone on the subway, leave it in a taxi, and sometimes phones get stolen. The smartphone itself is pretty valuable, but the data can be even more valuable. Even a password protected phone can be hacked with a little time and patience. In that case most of the private stuff on your phone is up for grabs. Most phones will allow you to lock down or wipe all the data on the phone remotely. Most companies will charge a premium for this service. For other phones you simply have to register for remote locking or wiping capabilities. Either way, remote locking or wiping can be very valuable insurance.
Yes, you can encrypt data on a smartphone too. Blackberry is one phone that has encryption capability built right into the phone. You will find them in the phone settings. There are encryption apps for other phones that don’t have built in encryption. If passwords and remote locking fail, encryption will keep your classified documents stored on your phone safe from Dr. Evil and his henchmen.
4. Use A VPN For Internet Connections
Yup. You can use a VPN on a smartphone too. When you connect to the internet from a wireless hotspot using your phone, it is just as risky as using your laptop. If you aren’t connecting to a secure site (https) someone might see what you are doing. So instead of connecting to the internet through one of those hot spots, you can log into your VPN securely. Some phones will also have better protection of their own wireless network so you can log in through your own phone service instead of a public router.
The same cast of VPN characters will work for your PC or your phone. WiTopia, Identity Cloaker, Cryptohippie and a whole bunch more will be good paid services. There are plenty of good free ones too, but the user experience is more cumbersome.
5. Get Anti Virus
Smartphones are the next big target for hackers. They have been unprotected for a long time, but have become full of valuable data. The most likely ways for a smartphone to become infected is through a malicious app or through links in text messages. Apple iPhones are less susceptible to viruses because of Apple’s tight central control of available apps. Most other phones can be protected with anti-virus software. Find out which software is compatible with your smartphone and get the latest version of AVG, Wavesecure, Kaspersky Mobile Security, Trend Micro or some other good anti virus software.
6. BlueTooth Beware
Bluetooth is convenient. Hands-free anything means you drive your Astin Martin, shoot rockets at someone who is chasing you, and have a pleasant chat with M, all at the same time. But Bluetooth signals are incredibly easy to intercept. Either password protect your Bluetooth or call M back later without using Bluetooth.
Lots of people have a gadget in their pocket that only world class spies would have had just a few years ago. See if you have what it takes to make yours as powerful as any that Angelina or Daniel would have used. Using these techniques together with getting your smartphone through a prepaid carrier (yes, they have pre-paid smartphones), paying for the phone and loading minutes with cash, or owning it in your private LLC, you can keep information on your smartphone out of the hands of your enemies.
Reprinted with permission from How to Vanish.
Bill Rounds, J.D. is a California attorney. He holds a degree in Accounting from the University of Utah and a law degree from California Western School of Law. He practices civil litigation, domestic and foreign business entity formation and transactions, criminal defense and privacy law. He is a strong advocate of personal and financial freedom and civil liberties.