By Willie Worsham, Fort Rucker Emergency Management SpecialistNovember 17, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- If you've been around long enough to remember the brick phones from the 1980s, you will probably agree that portable phone technology has come a long way in a very short amount of time.
Brick phones became flip phones that fit into your pocket and now 80 percent of Americans own smartphones. This technological wonder has transformed how people communicate with each other and access the Internet -- landlines in homes are being abandoned and telephone booths are a distant memory for most cities.
A smartphone has more raw computing power and more storage space than the majority of personal computers sold to consumers in the 1980s. In fact, the Apple iPhone 4 can perform 2 billion multiplications per second -- the world's first supercomputer -- the ENIAC, developed in 1946 -- could only perform 385 multiplications per second!
And therein is the problem.
Smartphones are actually pocket-sized computers that consumers use to manage their daily lives. People store contact information, detailed personal information and important information, e.g., family birthdates, Social Security numbers, wedding anniversaries -- you know, all of the things that you typically forget -- in their phone.
They log into Internet Web sites using their smartphone to conduct online banking, check their on-hand balances and conduct money transfers.
What people forget is their smartphone saves all of the information inside of their phone. Criminals and hackers, on the other hand, don't forget that fact. Instead, they are hoping that you leave your phone in a location where they can steal it, locate all of your personal information, and use your information to steal your identity, steal your money, and target your friends and family members.
Smartphones have become a booming business for the bad guys -- and they are making millions of dollars every year via smartphones.
Which means you have to be smarter than the criminal, be aware of how information stored on your phone is stolen, and take defensive measures to protect yourself, your family and unit from this 21st century problem.
In accordance with Army Policy, Army Regulation 360-1 and AR 530-1, personal electronic devices at training and briefing sessions where PEDs are restricted and publishing official Army information without express permission from the chain of command is prohibited in order to mitigate Army vulnerabilities and reduce operations security violations.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Password protect (or activate swipe security on) your phone.
Turn off the Wi-Fi feature of your phone -- a hacker can use that to gain unauthorized access to your phone.
If your phone is lost or stolen, immediately contact your phone carrier to have it deactivated. If you can remotely delete or reset your phone, do it. If you can remotely track your phone, e.g., the Apple iPhone has this capability via Apple Care, do it.
Be very careful which apps you download and install onto your smartphone. A growing number of malicious applications are finding their way onto the various app stores. Once installed, you'll never detect their activity and you will become an identity theft victim
Consider installing anti-virus software for your smartphone.
Review your monthly telephone bill for unusual activity, e.g., excessive billing charges.
Ensure you wipe the phone's internal storage before giving it away, selling it or trading it in.