Mobile Phone Security
This fact sheet has been developed for the Consumer Education Program by the Communications Commission of Kenya. It was compiled by studying material from various authoritative sources and adopting what is universally acceptable and relevant to the Kenyan situation. The fact sheet is intended to enable Consumers have a good understanding of the issues discussed and hence empower them when making decisions regarding ICT products and services. Introduction One of the biggest threats that a mobile phone user faces today is loss or theft of the phone. Not only is the mobile valued as a physical device, the phone may contain personal and financial data stored in the handset or in the phones subscriber identity module (SIM card). While a stolen SIM can be barred by a mobile network once the theft has been reported it is a bit harder to bar the handset from being used with different SIM card. Unless the user had protected his personal information with a PIN prior to the theft or loss of the phone, this data can be accessed by unauthorised persons. Mobile phone users normally store a wide range of information on their phones. This information can either be stored in the phone’s internal or external memory (depending on the make and model of the phone) or in the SIM card. The SIM card is used mainly to store contacts and short messages while the phone’s memory is used to store information such as personal photos, emails, and calendar items. In order to prevent unauthorised persons from using the phone and further gaining access to the stored information, some mobile phones have security features which the user can activate. This fact sheet has been developed to address security of the information stored and what to do should you lose the phone. Securing the information stored. There are at least two methods one can use to secure the information stored on a mobile phone. These are: a) SIM lock This method takes advantage of the SIM card as a storage element to secure private information associated with the subscriber. The subscriber uses a PIN number which is mostly a four digit code which should only be known to him and is always prompted by the mobile phone every time the SIM card is inserted into the phone. It is an effective method since even if the subscriber looses the SIM card the other person cannot access any information stored on it. b) Phone lock
Mobile phone security
This method takes advantage of a password to lock the mobile phone such that access to the phone’s functions can only be permitted upon input of the correct password. An eight-digit code is more secure than a four-digit code. Most phones also have an inbuilt an automatic phone lock system which kicks in after a stipulated time period e.g. 30 seconds when activated which is mostly used as a keypad lock and subscribers are advised to take advantage of this features to enhance the security setting of their phones. With more handheld devices being capable of receiving emails, security especially of corporate email with sensitive internal and external data has become a major concern. This means that mobile handsets hold data which previously only resided in computers. Since this method is more effective and protects more information than the first, subscribers are advised to always lock their phones especially if they hold any sensitive information. Safeguarding your Handset Some of the ways to keep your mobile safe include: • • •
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Keep your phone safe and out of sight. Only give your number to your friends and people you trust. Avoid using your phone in the street. If you need to call someone in a public place, be discrete and be somewhere where you can see what is happening around you. Use a PIN code to lock your phone. If you're walking alone put your phone on silent or vibrate mode so your ring tone doesn't draw attention to you. Be alert while walking and texting at the same time....
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