FCC issues security guidance to smartphone users

FCC publishes 10-step plan for securing mobile devices and their data

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is advising smartphone users on how to protect their mobile devices and data from mobile security threats.

The Commission released an online tool called the "Smartphone Security Checker" on Tuesday that outlines a 10-step action plan that mobile users can follow to prevent their personal data from being exposed in case their devices get infected with malware or are lost, stolen or resold.

The tool provides recommendations including: locking access to the phone with PINs or passwords; avoiding changing the phone's factory security settings or rooting/jailbreaking the phone; backing up the phone data regularly in the cloud, on a computer or on a removable memory card; installing apps only from trusted sources and after checking their user reviews; reviewing and understanding the permissions requested by applications before installing them; installing the firmware updates issued by the manufacturer; installing security apps that allow remote locking and wiping of the phone; avoiding connecting to the Internet from untrusted wireless hotspots; wiping data from the phones before reselling; donating or recycling devices; and reporting stolen devices to the authorities and the operator for inclusion in a national database of stolen smartphones.

The recommendations were drafted by the FCC in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; the Federal Trade Commission; the National Cyber Security Alliance; CTIA, a wireless industry trade association; and other public and private sector partners including antivirus vendors and cybersecurity organizations.

The tool allows smartphone owners to choose their device's OS. The available options are Android, Apple iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone. The steps are the same for all types of devices for the most part, but depending on the OS choice they might include links to OS-specific instructions for performing certain recommended actions.

The FCC checklist is one of the most comprehensive sets of rules for safeguarding smartphone devices and data published so far, said Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst at antivirus vendor Bitdefender.

"However, some provisions, although they make sense 'on paper,' are impossible to control by the user," he said. "For instance, most smartphones cannot be updated because vendors do not provide any security fixes past the maximum Android version supported by the respective hardware. Android versions from 2.3 to 2.3.3 are vulnerable to a number of known bugs -- some of them quite severe, such as USSD attacks -- but mobile phone vendors and carriers have stopped update delivery. In this context, the user is forced to either put up with an unsecured device that can be exploited at any time or to root their gadget and manually update its firmware."

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Topics: security, mobile security, data protection, privacy, bitdefender
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
Use WhistleOut's technology to compare:
Mobile phone plans & deals
Mobile phone models
Mobile phone carriers
Broadband plans & deals
Broadband providers
Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?