Fending off smartphone intruders

What can we do to defend ourselves against cyber-criminals exploiting smartphones to steal our personal data?
17 February 2015

Interview with 

Professor Lorrie Cranor and Professor Jason Hong, Carnegie Mellon University


Let's come back to some practical advice. Carnegie-Mellon scientists Lorrie Cranor and PhoneJason Hong. Lorrie, let's begin with you. So, what good advice could you give our listeners on how they can better protect themselves, if they're not wiping phones? What else could they be doing to make sure that they're not falling victim to these sorts of threats?

Lorrie - Well, I think the first thing is that they should setup a password or pin on their phone so that to protect themselves from somebody finding their phone and being able to access their information. So, I think that's important. And then I think they should also be careful about what apps they download and realise that most of the free apps, the part of the reason they're free is because they are essentially spying on you and trying to send you targeted advertising.

Chris - Basically, just don't download them in the first place.

Lorrie - You don't download them, unless you know what you're doing.

Chris - Jason, any sort of thoughts that you could add to the equation?

Jason - Well, in the short term, one of the thing you can also do is put your phone into airplane mode before you play some of these games. That way, it won't get your location data and also, won't use internet access. But in a long term, we're definitely going to need a lot more support for app developers and for regulators to make sure that they can help ensure our privacy.

Chris - Does this mean that people basically have to vote with their thumb, tell manufacturers and writers that you're not happy to have your data being exploited in this way and they'll get the message?

Jason - That's basically right. We need as a society to figure out what's the right balance between these app developers making revenue while also protecting our privacy.


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