General Question about Cell Phones

jane__nyFebruary 3, 2013

With all the hoopla regarding security on computers, how safe are the various operating systems on cell phones?

I do use my phone for things where security would be important, such as banking, brokerage, etc.

I don't use virus/spyware software on the phone. Is Android, Iphone, Blackberry operating systems more/less secure?

Thanks as always,

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Security is becoming an increasing issue with smart phones, although, given the differences between the way cell phones operate and computers operate, the problems are different. The main issue is installing apps on android phones that are outside the standard Market (third party apps), and could contain malware that most often uses your phone to send out spam. You could also have a problem if you download an app in the android Market that has malware in it but is so new that it hasn't been discovered yet. Apple tightly controls what apps can be in their store, so this is less of a problem with iPhones. I don't know about issues with other operating systems.

I take three precautions: 1) I have the free android security program "Lookout" installed on my phone, 2) I don't download apps from outside the regular Market, and 3) I will only download an app if it has a lot of positive reviews so I am reasonably sure it is a "good" app (both in terms of it being useful and knowing that others used it with no problems).

Below is a link to an article that will give you an overview of some of the problems.

Here is a link that might be useful: Smart phone malware

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 2:41PM
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Jane - If you avoid high risk behavior (by sticking to legit websites, legit apps from mainstream sources, and don't respond to spam/malware laden messages and emails), I'm going to say your risk is somewhere between zero and misiscule.

If you'd feel better by installing a security app, then do so. Make sure you set up your phone to require a password/security pattern for access. It's a pain but a simple protection that buys you some time to notify your carrier should your phone fall into unfriendly hands. You have no liability for unauthorized/fradulent access to your financial accounts no matter what means are used. The institution is on the hook when that happens, not you.

Banks and financial institutions are pushing their apps and new forms of transactions using smartphones. A new system called proximity payment will allow you to trigger a payment by passing your smartphone near a sensor. All these uses and more will only grow, fraud losses is just one of their costs of doing business. Their losses of various kinds with credit cards are surprisingly large, and I suspect they think things like proximity payment systems will provide more security FOR THEM.

Use and enjoy your phone for your financial transactions (I do the same) and lose no sleep about it.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 3:36PM
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I agree with snidely that the risks at this point are pretty tiny. I, too, use a banking app on my phone and buy things with my credit card, and don't really worry about it. As always, your first line of security protection will be using common sense.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 4:03PM
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Thank you Kudzu and Snidely for the information. I have apps which come directly from the banks and it requires a log in each time. It does make me a bit nervous because no security seems necessary to operate these phones.

Glad to know the banks are on the hook for any fraud, but I still feel a bit uneasy accessing my account on the phone.

The password option would be a pain, but I suppose makes sense.

Thanks for the good information.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:37PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

If you want to add a security app Lookout and Avast are both very good. I do use them on mine and my tablets, they are free so no reason not to,plus they scan all apps before install which is good. Totally up to you.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 2:28AM
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Don't feel uneasy accessing your accounts using your phone, consider it impossible for your cell signal to be intercepted.

There IS a reason to not install a security app - battery drain. Other than on a few models, no one ever thinks they have enough battery life. From googling, it appears some are more power hogs than others. To me, having protection from a very unlikely risk isn't a good use of limited battery power, but others will disagree. As before, I think a far more important protection is to use a screen password.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:35PM
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I agree that some apps are battery hogs. However, I have not found that to be true of Lookout. I do check on battery use with each new app I install, and Lookout doesn't seem to drain my battery. It mainly just runs for a few seconds when you download a new app or restart your phone. It also runs a periodic backup if you want. Of course, cell phones seem to vary a lot, so can't say it won't affect anyone else's battery use. I happen to like having my phone backed up and apps to be scanned, so I'm happy with it.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 2:34PM
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Thanks so much, you have both answered the questions I had. I do feel a lot better about security.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 1:24AM
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