FCC Offers Guide for Improving Mobile Security
The free online tool creates a 10-step smartphone action plan to help consumers protect their mobile devices.With mobile security threats up more than 350 percent since 2010 and smartphones increasingly becoming the dominant mode of communication for consumers, the Federal Communications Commission released an online tool, the Smartphone Security Checker, to help consumers protect their mobile devices. The free online tool creates a 10-step smartphone action plan to help consumers protect their mobile devices from smartphone-related cyber-security threats. To develop the tool, the FCC teamed up with smartphone security experts from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Cyber Security Alliance, the CTIA wireless association, Lookout, and other public and private sector partners on mobile security best practices. The FCC noted that almost half of Americans now own a smartphone and close to 20 percent have been the victim of mobile cyber-crime. The guide enables consumers to create a customized 10-step security checklist tailored to their smartphone's operating system, including Apple iOS, Google Android, BlackBerry devices or Microsoft's Windows Phone handsets. The guide includes information on how to set pins and passwords for a smartphone, download security apps that enable remote locating and data wiping, back up the data on a smartphone if the device is lost or stolen and wipe data on an old phone. Information on where to go to donate, resell or recycle a phone; how to safely use public WiFi networks; and what steps to take if a phone is stolen is also in the guide.
The FCC's announcement is the organization's latest effort to combat the growing threat to mobile security. In April 2012, the FCC launched the Protects Initiative to combat mobile device theft and trafficking. The initiative enables consumers to call their wireless provider to report their wireless devices stolen, which allows their provider to deactivate the device and prevent it from being used on other networks.