» This Story:Read +| Comments

Minimizing cellphone security risks

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 19, 2011; 3:47 PM

Help File

I've used a BlackBerry for years. A friend recently lent me his Android phone to try out, but I'm worried about its security compared to my BlackBerry.

This Story
View All Items in This Story
View Only Top Items in This Story

A: There are two kinds of threats to consider on a mobile device: malicious software that gets on your phone, and malicious people who take your phone.

Security-software developers like to play up the first risk; perhaps coincidentally, they have a long history of selling anti-virus and anti-malware tools to fight it.

But phone malware remains a rare species, with only a few "trojan" applications surfacing for Google's Android operating system. And avoiding them is easy enough: Don't download applications from the Android Market without carefully checking them out first.

As for the second risk, Google roughly matches Research In Motion: Like the BlackBerry manufacturer, it allows office administrators to erase a phone from afar but (unlike Apple) doesn't build in the same capability for consumers.

You can add that "remote wipe" option to an Android phone with such add-on programs as Mobile Defense (mobiledefense.com) or Lookout (mylookout.com). RIM, for that matter, is working on its own remote-wipe tool for consumers called BlackBerry Protect.

You should also set your phone to lock when unused. Current versions of Android let you choose between drawing a pattern on the screen, which can leave telltale smudge marks, or entering a number. If an Android phone, like most, lets you add a custom background image to its lock screen, you can add your contact information to the picture in any basic graphics application on a PC or Mac, such as the Paint program included in Windows.


» This Story:Read +| Comments
© 2011 The Washington Post Company

Network News

X My Profile