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Your Mobile Data: How Secure Is It?

The world is far more portable than it used to be. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a mobile phone; chances are they carry it around with them at all times. Add laptops and tablets to the mix and that’s a lot of digital devices out there carrying around various types of data.

The type of data you store on your mobile device extends beyond text messages. Everything from photos to spreadsheets can be kept in your pocket, ready to be opened at a moment’s notice. An increasing number of businesses are giving their employees devices in order to take their work with them.

Personal and work data – it’s all sensitive and deserves to remain private. But when your storing everything on these devices, are you sure how secure it is?

Take, for example, the recent celebrity stolen picture scandal. This was believed to be a breach of iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage system that their iPhones make use of. However, Apple released a statement claiming that their systems had been broken into.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that iCloud wasn’t involved in some capacity. The celebrities may have given their login information to spoof websites by accident; they may have simply had insecure passwords. It’s not known for sure, but the cloud certainly comes into play.

While it’s certainly true that celebrities are more likely to be specifically targeted from these types of attacks, it doesn’t mean that your data isn’t at risk either.

Before delving more into the cloud, it’s first also important to be aware of the more physical consequences of carrying your data around with you. You might mislay your phone or it might be stolen.

It is possible to encrypt all of the data on your device, meaning that it can’t be unlocked without a secret key. For Apple devices, simply putting a passcode on your device will also encrypt certain types of data (iMessages, mail and some apps). For Android, a passcode doesn’t automatically encrypt, but it’s still possible to enable it through the security settings menu on the device.

A lot of devices make use of cloud services. Some users choose to install third party apps, like Dropbox, to their devices, but many of them will come with built in services. The important question is whether you know if your data is being stored in the cloud or not, for some of these services will do it automatically.

Data on iOS devices is automatically stored on iCloud (which offers 5GB of free storage). Chances are there are many users who have this feature enabled and don’t realise that their photos and other data is being synced online.

Android offers a service that helps to restore data and settings, but this is specific to applications and doesn’t automatically extend to personal data.

Finally, Windows Phone requires an opt-in for data backup, which then sends apps, texts, photos and more into the cloud.

The bottom line to take away is just to know exactly where your data is being stored. If it’s in the cloud then remember that no cloud storage service is ever one hundred percent secure. Also, it’s important that you encrypt your data locally on your device – a strong encryption is some of the best protection for your data available.

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