updated 12:37 pm EST, Tue December 18, 2012
Eestimated 20M smartphones as presents in US
The FCC has released an online tool that provides smartphone users a checklist to help protect their handsets. The Smartphone Security Checker, aimed at preventing attacks against mobile phones, has been unveiled ready for the start of the holiday season, where 20 million Americans are expected to receive a new mobile device as a present.
After users select from Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone options, they are then presented with a checklist containing tasks that will help both the physical and software-based security of mobile devices. Recommendations to set up PINs and passwords are followed by reminders to backup stored data regularly, and to regularly update the phone's operating system. In terms of app security, the FCC recommends avoiding jailbreaking or rooting handsets, to only install apps from trusted sources, and to understand what an app will have access to on the phone in terms of permissions before installing it in the first place.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, after claiming that less than half of smartphone owners use passwords on devices, called the holiday gift-giving season "a perfect time to remind consumers to take simple steps, like setting a password, to protect themselves from mobile security threats." It is believed by the FCC that there was a 367-percent increase in mobile cyber attacks from 2010 to 2011.