Feature Article

December 18, 2012

FCC Unveils New Security Tool to Protect Consumer Mobile Devices

Statistics show that theft of cellphones and smartphones is on the rise. Media reports suggest that such losses amount to nearly $30 billion every year. Concurrently, mobile password thefts and other security threats are also on the rise. Research shows that mobile security threats overall have grown 350 percent since 2010. To help consumers protect their mobile devices this holiday season, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is stepping in with a new tool called the “Smartphone Security Checker.”

The checker, which is built in partnership with organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security, The Federal Trade Commission, The National Cyber Security Alliance, CTIA-The Wireless Association, Lookout, Sophos and other public and private sector partners, includes tips for Android, iOS, Windows and BlackBerry users on setting passwords, backing up data, wiping data on an old phone and how to avoid stolen devices.

According to FCC, the Smartphone Security Checker is a free, easy-to-use online tool that creates a 10-step smartphone action plan to help consumers protect their mobile devices from smartphone-related cybersecurity threats. Almost half of Americans now own a smartphone and close to 20 percent have been the victim of mobile cybercrime.

Consumers can access the Smartphone Security Checker at www.fcc.gov/smartphone-security.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement, “With less than half of smartphone owners using passwords to protect their devices, this new tool will be of particular value to millions of Americans. The holiday gift-giving season is a perfect time to remind consumers to take simple steps, like setting a password, to protect themselves from mobile security threats.”

In short, the security checker sets pins and passwords for your smartphone, downloads security apps that enable remote locating and data wiping, backs up data on your smartphone if your device is lost or stolen, wipes data on your old phone and tells you where to go to donate, resell or recycle it, and shows you how to safely use public Wi-Fi networks and what steps to take if your phone is stolen.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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