Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - You call it a smartphone. A hacker calls it a computer, or an opportunity to steal your personal information.
For many people, a smartphone is a must-have, whether it’s an iPhone, a BlackBerry, or an Android phone.
With a smartphone, you can text, play games, access the Internet, or make calls.
Rule 1: Treat your smartphone like a computer
Users need to be aware that a smartphone is more than a phone. A general rule of thumb is to treat the device like a computer – and experts say that rule should apply whether you’re an iPhone user, or an Android user.
Apple users might be under the impression that they don’t need to worry about security on their devices because hackers are more likely to author malware for PC-based devices. Information security engineer Griffin Reid makes his money testing environments for data security. He warns that iPhone users should exercise the same caution that Android users have become accustomed to.
"That right there is a huge misconception," said Griffin Reid, an information security engineer. "The fact that Apple users think they're not susceptible to viruses and malware, it's completely false."
Rule 2: Do not connect to open WiFi
Free WiFi is not your friend. What might appear to be secure connection, could be a front.
A WiFi hotspot can be called whatever its creator wants to call it. What appears to be Starbucks, may not be. If you are browsing on one of these connections shopping using a smartphone app can be a dangerous. Each time you enter a password or credit card number, you may be exposing it to hackers.
Rule 3: Never save passwords in a text document
You should never save sensitive data or passwords to a text document on your phone.
Reid recommends an app called 1Password, which is available for purchase on most platforms.
1Password stores your passwords and confidential information - including web accounts, credit card data, and personal data - in one secure place and protects it with one strong password -- the only one you need to remember.
Rule 4: Know your app
Before you download an app, you should know what you’re getting into.
You should always download apps from trusted sources. One way to research an app is to read reviews on it before downloading.
Rule 5: Equip your smartphone with protection
Tim Kirk of the US Secret Service also suggests that smartphone users contact their provider to download free or low-cost malware and virus protection. He also says that the customer should utilize passwords to protect their networks. That said, password users should not assume a password cannot be guessed or bypassed.
Finally, you should always leave your smartphone someplace safe. The simplest form of data theft isn’t done by hacking, but by simply turning on your phone.
Hackers should be warned that criminal use of smartphones can lead to Federal charges of wire fraud, computer fraud, identity theft, or other violations that can lead to fines and considerable Federal prison sentences.