The latest generation of smartphones are fantastic devices. They can send and receive multi-media text messages, send and receive e-mail, instruct you on how to get from point a to point b using sophisticated gps signals and much more. They are truly becoming miniaturized computers.

In the recent past, cell phones and even business smart phones were closed devices that only ran specially designed software written by the cell phone manufacturer, or closely inspected software that the manufacturer approved. With the introduction of the Apple iPhone, Symbian OS, the more advanced Windows mobile OS, and the Android platform there has been an explosion of new applications being added to the download sites of each of the companies. Apple tries to perform quality control on iPhone apps, but only has limited time to test them. The Android marketplace is pretty much an open market for apps.

In order to make the applications profitable, some legitimate app developers are asking users to approve licenses that allow some aspect of their privacy to be compromised. Monitoring websites visited on the phone is an example of such an agreement. It allows advertisements on mobile websites to be targeted to the user. However, there is an increasing worry that unscrupulous app developers might include more invasive code in their software. Some software apps have already been targeted as spyware apps.

Another more concerning possibility is actual virus software, and mal-ware being delivered to smartphones.  Rutgers University researchers have identified ways to exploit current model smartphones, and they say, “...people with general computer proficiency can create rootkit malware for smart phones.”   The danger is even greater for smartphones than for standard computers. While a hacker accessing a computer can find sensitive information on your hard disk, they do not have the tools they do with a smartphone. Most users with smartphones or other cell phones carry them everywhere with them. The danger of the new rootkits, and viruses are the ability to activate the gps, and locate users wherever they are. Another malicious thing that hackers can do is, is activate the microphone and listen in on sensitive conversations.

Smartphones are being used for so many different tasks now. It is possible to make payments with them, do mobile banking with them, call anywhere in the world. This is both a valuable tool, and an exploitable defect in the operating systems of the new generation phones. Therefore, I beleive it is time to secure your phone from hackers. Major ant-virus software developers have started developing software to protect phones from the latest threats. Trend Micro, McAfee, AVG, Norton and others are already writing software to protect against the newest threats. Several of them are free, other have a minimal charge. Give one of the trials a shot, it will make you  feel safer about carrying your cell phone with you at all times. 

A few other tips for securing your phone from intruders:

1. Make sure Bluetooth is turned off except when you need it. 

2. Don’t open texts that you don’t recognize, especially if the caller-id is weird on them. 

3. As with computers, don’t open e-mails that are from people you don’t recognize. They can carry viruses that attack exploitable phones OS’s. 

4. Secure your phone with a screen password. That way if it is lost or stolen it will not be as easily hacked.