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Your smartphone’s security is at risk

The use of smartphones in public Wifi hotspots can create problems such as identity theft and leaked passwords.

According to a ProtectMyID study, storing sensitive personal information on smartphones, particularly if you use the phone on public Wifi networks, may put you at increased risk of identity theft. The ProtectMyID study was conducted in the UK, but due to the nature of the internet, the risks are similar everywhere.

The study further says that about 65 per cent smartphone users use email services on their phones; which means they send, receive and store mails using these devices. Some mails contain sensitive information such as credit card details and receipts as well. Moreover, more than half the users visit social network websites through their smartphones, and most social networking accounts have personal and sensitive information.

About 30 per cent of smartphone users use their phones on public Wifi networks which are insecure to say the least, and one’s data stands the danger of being intercepted. Several people even use online banking services on public Wifi networks, which compromises their private data, including passwords and PINs.

The study by ProtectMyID advises people not to post their whereabouts on social networking sites. And if they do post such information, privacy settings should be set such that only select contacts have access to these posts. People are also advised to avoid using location based services such as Google Latitude or other advertising, concludes the survey. If these are used, the geotags and location capabilities of these sites should be disabled.

For an identity thief, sensitive information available on smartphones is virtually a goldmine and users may be serving these on a platter by using public Wifi hotspots. Potential problems from identity theft, according to the survey, include one’s account being drained, loans being taken in one’s name etc.

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