In a recent Sunday column, we talked about how to protect yourself against online I.D. theft.
Several readers emailed us, asking for more details on how to protect their mobile phones. They're wise to ask: Most people don't even realize their mobile phones can be just as vulnerable as their home computer, said Robert Siciliano, online computer security expert with McAfee. "There are thousands of viruses targeting mobile phones and millions targeting PCs," he noted in an email.
Siciliano said the best defense: Getting regular security updates to your mobile phone's operating system. These so-called "security patches" are issued by manufacturers to thwart the bad guys.
"Just like you do routine maintenance on your car, you need to schedule routine security updates for your phone," said Siciliano. How often? Quarterly, at a minimum.
How do you get your phone's updated security patch? Because every phone is different in how it updates its operating system, Siciliano recommends doing a Google search. Type in "Update Operating System" and the name of your phone. Or look in your phone's user manual.
His 2nd tip: Install anti-virus software on your phone. If you Google search for "Anti-Virus" for the name/make/model of your phone, you'll find vendors who offer anti-virus protection. Among some of the top-rated: Bullguard Mobile Security, Lookout Premium and McAfee Mobile Security.
Another 3rd line of defense: Always use a password on your cellphone.
Other cellphone security tips from IdentityTheft911.org:
--Create a strong, hard-to-guess password on your cellphone (letters, numbers and at least 1 symbol).
--Use settings that automatically shut down your phone after so many minutes of inactivity.
--Make a pen-and-paper physical list of everything that's on your smart phone (accounts, documents, apps, etc.) in case it's lost or stolen.
--Don't open unfamiliar texts, emails or attachments.
--Be cautious of the kinds of apps you download.
--If you do mobile banking on your phone, be sure your data is encrypted and that you can delete any stored data, such as check images. You should also disable any features that automatically log into your online banking account every time your phone is turned on.