Most of us are aware these days that smart phone information isn’t as safe or as private as we might like. Revelations about massive smartphone metadata being collected and stored by the federal government awoke many to the risk that anything they do on their smartphone could potentially be watched or monitored by a federal agency.
The risk of exposure of the very sensitive, personal information you store on your phone by no means begins or ends with government intrusiveness. Seemingly, every day the public is made aware of a corporate entity (see Snapchat) suffering an improper exposure which may potentially lead to yourinformation falling into the wrong hands. Insecure mobile apps are but one more way that your information can be compromised.
We’ve all seen similar scenarios play out like this before – elected representatives fail to protect the people they’ve pledged to represent, then a private entity or entities produce potential solutions consumers want and need which are unable to be found elsewhere. There are now a few products on the market that seek to address the issue of smartphone privacy in a real and tangible way.
Several products put on the market by the company Silent Circle seek to directly address the problem of smartphone privacy. For ten bucks a month, they will encrypt all voice, video, text and file communication sent to anyone who is also using Silent Circle Mobile. The option for a more expensive upgrade also exists which will allow a user to encrypt their end of a phone call to a mobile or landline, even if the person on the other end isn’t a subscriber.
For secure internet browsing, The Guardian Project has created a free app called Orweb Browser, which allows users to browse the web privately. It frees you from cookies, limits security threats, and prevents network providers from viewing your web history. Additionally, there are several other programs available to restrict outside access to your phone. While none of these offer complete, impenetrable security, it is a great way to reduce your exposure to the prying eyes of your creepy Uncle Sam. If you’re looking for something to add some level of protection without having to pay for and install additional software, consider utilizing the private browsing modes on Safari or Chrome browsers, both of which are available for either IOS or Android platforms. While this won’t encrypt your information, it will prevent your browser from saving your data, browsing history, or cookies once you exit the browser.
The Guardian Project also has an app for secure text and instant messaging called Chat Secure. This program unlike some others, doesn’t replace your existing texting or messaging application. Instead, it allows you to send encrypted messages over a plethora of different chat services including Facebook Chat, Google Talk, Google Hangouts, Jabber and others.
If you have questions about the risks to your privacy your smartphone can create or would like more detailed information on the steps to take to protect yourself, please call the ITRC toll free at (888) 400-5530 or visit our website at www.idtheftcenter.org.
“Protecting your Smartphone Privacy” was written by Matt Davis. Matt is Director of Business Alliances at the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.