By Claudia Buck
With so many of us accessing the Internet or storing sensitive data on our iPhones, Droids or BlackBerrys, our mobile phones are increasingly vulnerable to cyberthieves.
The state Office of Privacy Protection is warning consumers to protect their smart phones against the same types of dangers - hackers, viruses - that can lurk within a big, bulky computer or laptop.
"We treat them like it's only a phone, but it's really a little computer that has the same kind of vulnerability as your PC," said privacy office chief Joanne McNabb.
McNabb said consumers download apps that may not contain enough security coding to thwart hackers.
Or smart phone users may be unaware they need the same type of anti-virus and anti-malware protections used on their home or work computers.
In one case earlier this year, a mobile game, "3D Anti-terrorist Action," inadvertently allowed hackers to rack up expensive, international phone bills on users' phones.
- Install the same type of software and security programs you'd want on your computer. There are mobile versions of security software from the same companies that offer products for your desktop. Or contact your phone service provider for guidance.
- Check out apps before downloading them. Look on review sites, such as www.whatapp.org which rates some apps for privacy and security.