Mobile Devices and Security

A couple of years back I met with someone from a communist country. Prior to starting the conversation, he made sure that we both had our phones off and that the battery was removed. HIs actions surprised me as all we were going to talk was based on actuaries and trends of illnesses in based on physical location of the patients. He explained that based on his Government’s technical capabilities and manipulation of data it was a matter of survival to ensure that conversations were not recorded.

In the United States we have been lucky and naïve as we continue to depend on mobile devices to simplify our lives without considering the consequences of this dependence. For example, it should not be a surprise to anyone that cybercriminals already hack home security networks on an ongoing basis. Think about, while we all know the importance of having malware protection and firewalls in our computer systems; how many of you are doing the same with your refrigerators, home camera systems or your television sets?

Let me bring this home with something that should be simple to visualize. Smart speakers are normally on, tracking and recording what you say. Some time ago I visited an attorney who was using one of these devices for background noise. His thought process was that by adding background noise he will be increasing the security in his office. The flaw in his reasoning was failure to consider that the device was a recording/transmit device that he had turned on in his office.

People may say that I’m paranoid and I’m ok with that. In reality I see it from another point of view, if I want to use the convenience of these mobile devices I must also keep in mind my responsibility of keeping my family safe. In other words, I will follow these rules:

Find out what security measures the devices have and use them appropriately.

  • Update their Operating Systems (OS) Regularly.
  • Turn User authentication on and ensure no information is recorded or accessible to anyone other than myself.
  • Monitor access to these devices regularly.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi networks.