Cell Phone Hacking Prevention Tips

Rupert Murdoch. Photo credit: biography.com

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch testified at a hearing on Tuesday in Britain about the phone hacking scandal that shut down his News of the World tabloid and rocked his publishing empire. On Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm, we look at the privacy, media and hacking issues surrounding the scandal.

Smartphones are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s society while their use becomes more and more personal. Once, a smartphone was a device that people could simply talk on and e-mail from, but with new technology, it has evolved additional features and has even begun replacing credit cards. As your smartphone becomes evermore essential, how can you prevent it from being hacked, and what phones are more secure?

According to Kristian Hammond, co-director of the Intelligent Information Laboratory at Northwestern University, it’s less an issue of what type of phone you purchase and more about the service and your own password protection.

“For the most part, it’s really the service. No matter what phone you have, depending on what service you’re using, things are more or less secure,” said Hammond. “For a lot of services, it used to be you could get a default PIN password for your voicemail. A lot of the hacking in Great Britain was related to that, people not changing their passwords. They could call the phone number and just type in a list of passwords.”

Photo credit: Flickr user Pat2001

To prevent someone from accessing your phone’s voicemail, be sure to change the phone’s remote access PIN. To do this, simply call voicemail and listen for the security setting, or call the cell phone provider and ask for instructions. Change your password regularly to decrease the chance of a successful hack even more.

The other type of hacking involves data gathering. The data could be anything from the owner’s name to passwords to credit card information. Preventing this type of hacking is more difficult, but here are some tips to ensure that your smartphone remains secure.

First of all, just as with your voicemail, be sure to make your password something difficult to guess.

“One of the main holes in peoples’ security is their password,” said Hammond. “People should be thinking about making sure their passwords are unique and not related to them.”

Many smartphones have an auto complete feature, so be sure either to turn this off entirely or at least deactivate the feature for programs and websites for which you log in. Otherwise, your phone will store the information, making it all the more readily accessible to a successful hacker.

Bluetooth logo

Delete your browsing history regularly, and turn off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS when you aren’t using them. Also, control your phone’s Bluetooth visibility. Bluetooth is used to connect devices to each other, and when visibility is on it’s possible for a hacker to reach through another device into your phone. To increase your phone’s protection even more, turn it off when you aren’t using it, or take out the battery.

Although taking extra precautions doesn’t hurt, Hammond argues that most phones are only moderately at risk.

“What it really comes down to is your password. As with most password-protected devices, people do a mediocre job of making sure their passwords are un-guessable,” said Hammond. “A lot of people use things like the year they were born, the month or day they were born, their social security number—easy to remember but also easy for people to guess.”

For more tips on a secure phone, visit the following links:

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14 Responses to “Cell Phone Hacking Prevention Tips”

  1. mike cannon says:

    Recently my wife used my T-Mobile cell phone and some how the person she called got my entire phone list. Can you help?

  2. Here is an article that compliments the above blog. It lists the best practices for ensuring smartphone security. http://ezinearticles.com/?9-Must-Do-Practices-for-Smartphone-Security&id=6407246

  3. Bob Binder says:

    Here’s an online tool to generate a strong and easier-to-remember passwords.

    http://www.multicians.org/thvv/gpw.html

    It produces non-sense words that are pronounceable. Add numbers and non-alpha characters as needed. If you’re not interested in the esoterica, just locate and click the “Generate Passwords” button. You’ll get a list of ten suggestions.

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