FCC: Stop being dumb about mobile security, use this tool

December 19, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission knows that smartphone owners don’t actually know how much power is in their pockets. The agency has released the “Smartphone Security Checker”, a web app aimed at helping consumers get wise about mobile security.

The FCC launched the web tool in tandem with a number of well-known names in the mobile industry such as Blackberry (RIM),  security company Lookout Mobile, McAfee, and others. The tool is simple. You first choose which type of smartphone you have — either Blackberry, iOS, Android, or Windows Phone — and then it will give you security instructions based on that operating system. These instructions include best security apps, safety tips and how to set up passwords on that particular phone type, as well as ways to backup or wipe your phone.

It’s a simple website, but seeing the government reach out to smartphone users and try to protect them specifically is encouraging — especially in the midst of the holiday season where millions of smartphones will be gifted. Mobile security is now recognized as a need instead of a “nice to have.” Consumers have their bank accounts, work accounts, health apps, e-mail and more on their phone — apps that reach much deeper into the person than just text messages and photos.

It also marks a new partnership between the government and security companies, such as Lookout Mobile, McAfee and Symantec. For Lookout, this is the latest of a few big partnerships the company has been making over the last year. This includes a partnership with T-Mobile and its most recent deal with French mobile carrier Orange, which included an undisclosed amount of funding.

Solidifying the need, Lookout found a new Android scam Monday called SpamSoldier that parades as a popular free app, such as Angry Birds Space, and instead turns your phone into a bot for its spam campaign. Once installed, the “app” erases its icon from the launch screen and sends out text messages promoting the scam or fake websites to your contact lists.

Copyright 2012, VentureBeat

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