- Category: March - April 2010
Industry research has shown that the Asia Pacific region accounts for nearly 30% of the overall market for Smartphones.
The iPhone, Blackberry devices have served, in a very short time frame, to dramatically increase the capabilities consumers can access through their handsets.With email, web browsing, and a variety of other options made available in a single handheld device, Smartphones have essentially integrated the functionality of computers and mobile phones and are driving the growth of mobile Internet.
With mobile web usage on the rise, consumers are increasingly dependent on their mobile devices for functions that they previously performed on their PCs. This in turn leads to a lot of personal information being stored on these devices. Smartphone users access and use both their personal and work emails on their mobile devices. With increasing adoption of services like mobile banking, sensitive financial information is also often stored on these devices.
With such vital personal details and exchanges being transferred from PCs to mobile phones, it has become critical to protect information on these devices. Cell phones that connect to the Internet are just as vulnerable to malicious virus attacks as PCs. However, while our PCs are usually up to date with the latest antivirus and malware protection software, the same precautions are not usually taken with our mobile devices that are now more like pocket PCs.
Work from phone:
Carrying a blackberry device has become standard practice in the corporate world. It has become absolutely essential to have 24/7 access to your office email and these devices help you do just that. Using a mobile device for exchange of sensitive company and client information makes it all the more essential for consumers to make sure their communication is secure.
There are several ways in which a mobile device can be infected with malicious software. There are viruses that are specifically designed for mobile devices rather than PCs. Mobile devices with email access are vulnerable to malware that is spread through email. Downloading harmful email attachments on your cell phone could easily infect the device and result in erased files, loss of sensitive information and scrambled icons. In addition to the data loss, these viruses would render the device unusable.
There are some viruses that may not be designed to infect mobile devices but can still cause a security break. A harmful file that has been downloaded onto a cell phone may not affect the mobile device but transferring the file onto a PC would cause the computer to be infected with a virus.
The mobile device is even more vulnerable when it is using Bluetooth technology to interact with other wireless and wired devices. Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones can be detected by other mobile devices within a 30 feet radius and can be infected by viruses these other devices may be carrying. Even exchanging text messages can infect your mobile device!
Securing your cell phone:Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to protect your email and other sensitive information in a mobile device:
- Smartphone users can start with something as simple as ensuring the physical safety of their mobile device. It is advisable to never leave your Smartphone unattended.
- Keep your device updated with the latest antivirus and malware protection software. There are a number of options for quality antivirus softwares for mobile devices in the market today.
- Ensure that your email and other sensitive documents/files are password protected. Avoid saving these passwords so they are not automatically supplied to the user. It is also advisable to purge all unnecessary data and only store information that you really need.
- When accessing email, make sure that it is from a trusted source before downloading any attachments. Do not access suspicious links - stick to trusted websites. Downloading unknown attachments or clicking on unknown links could infect your device or lead to phishing attacks.
- Turn your Bluetooth off when it’s not in use. When using it, it’s better to switch to the ‘hidden’ mode from the ‘discovery’ mode.
- For additional security tips, check with the distributor at the point of purchase or get in touch with the manufacturer of the device.
Recommendations for marketers:
With consumers largely using mobile devices for anytime-anywhere email access, marketers now need to tailor their email marketing messages keeping in mind the constraints of a mobile screen as well as the privacy and security concerns of Smartphone users. Here are some basic precautions that can be taken to ensure these marketing messages are easily recognisable so as not to cause any security breaks:
- Ensure that the content being sent is with the permission of the user. Research has shown that subscribers are likely to delete messages that are unsolicited, too frequent or irrelevant.
- Make sure that the subject line of your message is short and can be read in full in the inbox display. Smartphone inboxes are smaller in size so subject lines need to be re-sized accordingly. If the subject of the email clearly states what the email is about, the mobile device user will be able to make an informed decision on whether they want to open the message or delete it. It will help them pick out relevant messages from any suspicious emails or spam.
- Ensure that the first few words of the email that open without scrolling capture your message accurately. This will help users to determine whether they want to mark the message for follow-up or delete it altogether. Stick to text emails with an option to link to a webpage.
- When sending links, be mindful of the fact that Smartphones display the complete link rather than just the link name. Since these complete links usually have a lot of characters, it might overwhelm the subscriber and the device screen.
Smartphones can store hundreds of documents, run programs and offer all functionalities of a PC. If misplaced, stolen or hacked into, an unsecured Smartphone will allow access to all personal information including email correspondence, address books and other documents. Given the risks, data security on mobile devices has become mandatory to protect both your personal and professional lives.
By Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, APAC, Mobile Marketing Association