Cell phone security a concern with data increase

As more information is sent on smartphones, the risk of that data being lost or stolen can rise, a concern students said affects them dramatically.

Smart or not · The National Institute of Standards and Technology recommends cell phone users download security software to prevent viruses and other malware. - Photo illustration by Emily Tat | Daily Trojan


“My life is in my cell phone,” said Emily Barth, a senior majoring in communication. “In this new age of technology, it is especially important to monitor your apps, texts, messages, and other data hackers can access.”

According to an Oracle Communication survey, 42 percent of cell phone users said their data has increased within the last year, yet only 32 percent of those users feel their information is secure.

“I’ve never had my phone hacked into, so I don’t worry about it on a daily basis,” Barth said. “But it is something we should all think about.”

McAfee Secure, the world’s largest technology security company, reported a significant increase in iPhone and Android hacking in 2011.

Chrissy Piña, a junior majoring in screen writing, said she is aware phone hacking is a growing problem but admits she does not take as many precautions as she should.

“I delete my voicemails as soon as I hear them, but I don’t worry about texts or pictures because they aren’t incriminating,” Piña said. “I suppose its just blindness. I’m aware of the danger, but I can’t live in fear worrying about some random hacker breaking into my phone.”

Viruses and other forms of malware can be spread to handheld devices through data networks, synchronizations with desktop computers, tainted storage media, Internet downloads, messaging services and Bluetooth communications, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology’s most recent Guidelines on Cell Phone and PDA Security. Such malware can result in data interception, service abuse that causes higher than expected costs for the user, data theft and network access for the hacker.

Joel Kutz, a sophomore majoring in film and television production, said he is concerned about an increase in phone hacking, so he does not keep any private information in his phone.

“I’ve got nothing to hide.” Kutz said. “But in general, I believe we as students have a false sense of comfort and should take many more precautions to keep personal information safe not just in cell phones but also on social media sites and emails.”

The National Institute of Standards and Technology recommends users protect their cell phone data by using built-in security features like PINs and passwords, avoiding storage of sensitive information on phones, turning wireless interfaces off when not in use and being careful about the sites they use and the items they download. The report said users should also add prevention and detection software when they can.

Maddy Lindsay, a junior majoring in communication, said she has been a victim of cyber crime and as a result deletes her texts and pictures in case of future attack.

“Ever since my Facebook got hacked and someone hijacked my status I’ve been definitely concerned about the privacy of all my digital data especially in my cell phone,” Lindsay said. “I delete texts and pictures regularly and use elaborate passwords to protect my data.”