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FCC partners with CTIA and mobile security apps to create checklist for smartphone security

News by Andrew Kameka on Tuesday December 18, 2012.

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The FCC believes that consumers need to be better educated on how to protect their smartphones and the personal information that it holds, so it has partnered with several firms to create a best practices checklist for mobile security. The smartphone Secuirty Checker available at the FCC's website is a 10-step checklist that tells consumers how to protect their devices. The tool has a basic guideline of universal instructions, such as set a PIN on the lock screen or backup and secure data, but it also includes a few details tailored for specific devices that link to additional instructions. For instance, all users are told to install software that can remotely track or wipe their phone, but Apple iOS users are told to visit Apple's support page to learn how to set up Find My iPhone.

The Smartphone Security Checker features what experienced smartphone users would consider basic guidelines to follow, but it's valuable for users who are new to smartphones or a particular operating system - like an Android convert to iOS or vice versa - to get platform-specific instructions. Users are urged to not modify security settings, like root or jailbreak devices; only install apps from trusted sources, like the App Store or Google Play; read and understand app permissions when installing apps; and accept updates and patches as soon as software is available.

Security Checker also suggests that users consider installing third-party anti-malware software. That's not surprising considering that in addition to partnering with the CTIA and BlackBerry, the FCC reached out to the following companies: Lookout Mobile Security, McAfee, Sophos, Symantec, and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

The need for mobile malware apps is hotly-debated because despite frequent claims of malware by security companies, it typically arises when users install pirated software or from untrustworthy sources outside of the official app channels.

Despite their dubious need, some mobile security apps have otherwise useful features like scanning the web for phishing scams or malware, and helping track or wipe lost or stolen phones.

More information on these apps and other security steps can be found at the FCC's Smartphone Security Checker website.

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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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