Recent reports show smartphones are outselling dumbphones for the first time ever. Dumbphones are actually called feature phones, which is odd because they don’t offer many features. Well, they do, like a camera, texting, crude internet access, and a few other extinct bells and whistles—but not as many as a smartphone.
The Wall Street Journal reports, “Smartphones accounted for 51.8 percent of mobile phone sales globally, research firm Gartner said…. The growth, up 46.5 percent compared with the same quarter last year, is driven by sales in the sub-$100 Android market.”
The fact that Android’s lower prices reflect the rise in smartphones is significant due to the fact that Apple’s new iPhone 5C will be priced at $100 or less and older-model iPhones can be had for pennies with a two-year contract.
This is big. This means millions and millions more people are now using smartphones. (My dad got his first smartphone with the iPhone 5. The man won’t stop texting me pics of squirrels on his deck, deer in his yard and birds on the 30 feeders he has.)
The technology in smartphones today is just astounding. Whether you use an iPhone, Android or even a BlackBerry, having the world at your fingertips makes getting things done far more efficiently. Besides the obvious benefits of communications, multimedia and online shopping, a smartphone is a great way to save money.
Just the other day, I went to a store to make a purchase and was floored by the cost of an item that I usually buy every two or three years. I immediately went online via my smartphone and found what I was looking for—for 90 percent less than what I had almost paid. Frankly, I don’t know how brick-and-mortar shops survive when consumers have this kind of access to price comparisons.
Now that you are a new and proud smartphone owner, you must recognize you are no longer using simply a phone. It’s a mini computer. And your smart phone can be hacked in the same way as the computer you have in your basement office.
Once the criminals have access to your personal information, they can steal your identity to commit various frauds using your name. Identity theft is a rising threat and criminals are becoming more resourceful and opportunistic at finding ways to steal your personal information.
Unfortunately, most of us still have a very casual attitude toward protecting the sensitive information on our devices. According to the Consumer Reports, 39 percent of the more than 100 million adult smartphone users in the U.S. fail to even take the most basic security measures!
You can’t carry this little PC around and not keep security in mind. So follow these tips below to secure your new smart phone:
- Update the operating system (OS) when required – The device itself has settings that will alert you to new updates. But if you receive a text message telling you to update your OS, it’s likely a scam.
- Password protect it – This isn’t a feature phone. It’s a smart little computer that accesses applications and data. If your phone is lost or stolen, you want it password protected. Be sure to use a unique password that is at least 8 characters long.
- Invest in Locate/Lock/Wipe software – Whether built into the OS or downloaded as an app from a third party, get software that will remotely locate your device if it is lost, then will lock it and wipe the data if needed.
- Secure your wireless connections – Not all wireless is created equal. Your carrier’s 3G/4G has a level of encryption that’s crackable, but unlikely to be cracked—whereas any open or free WiFi network at public places can expose your device and its data to criminals. Installing Hotspot Shield VPN (available for both iPhone and Android) will encrypt all WiFi communications, protecting you. And it’s free.