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There's good news and bad news about mobile security. First, the bad news: mobile security is a rapidly growing problem. The good news is that there are some basic steps you can take to protect the mobile devices you use in your nonprofit or library.
We've spent a lot of time talking about apps through our App It Up project, and we encourage you to explore how apps might help your organization. But we also want nonprofits and libraries to explore apps safely and securely.
As more people use mobile devices to store and access sensitive and personal information, mobile devices have become a more appealing target for cybercriminals. Device loss, data theft, and mobile malware are just a few of the things you need to worry about.
While Android devices have been the most popular targets for mobile malware, all smartphones and tablets – including Android, Apple, Windows, and Blackberry devices – are at risk for theft and data loss.
Malware is a combination of the words "malicious" and "software." It is a catchall term for threats like viruses, worms, spyware, and adware. In many ways, a "smart" mobile device is basically a small handheld computer, so mobile devices are vulnerable to malware, just like computers are.
Mobile malware can steal personal information, banking and credit card details, and intellectual property. Malicious software can even steal money directly, for example by making your mobile device send text messages to charge-per-text numbers.
Mobile malware comes from many of the same sources as PC malware: links in email, instant messages, or websites, and from downloading infected files.
Mobile apps are an increasingly common way to install malware on mobile devices. Malware apps masquerade as a legitimate app (sometimes even as a copy of a popular app). Once downloaded, these malicious apps can gain access to a mobile device's core features and the data stored on the device.
There are some common-sense steps you can take to secure your mobile device. Many of these are the same steps you take to keep your PC safe and secure:
Photo: Malte Ahrens
Thanks for this post, Ariel. It's very timely (at least for me). I had always thought identity theft was something that happened to other people, until I woke up this past Thanksgiving to find a slew of charges on my credit card -- from a cruise ship in Helsinki. I am very cautious with my credit card and how I use it online. After reading this post, I am guessing that is exactly how my card got lifted. I am not sure why I had put my mobile online activity in a different category, but I imagine that's pretty common. Thanks for pointing out that our mobile online activity is subject to the same dangers as any other online activity.