The European Union has released a report giving a broad overview of the state of smartphone security, looking at where the devices are vulnerable, and offering suggestions for how different types of smartphone users can best keep themselves and their phones safe.
The exhaustive report, prepared by the European Network and Information Security Agency, runs the gamut of phone vulnerabilities, from loss of data resulting from a stolen or misplaced phone, up to malicious code using your smartphone’s sensors to spy on you. Some of the risks are similar to those faced by home computers, while others are unique to the smartphone sphere. Dialer apps, for instance, haven’t been popular on PCs since many users moved from dial-up to broadband, but their SMS equivalents could rack up charges on your service bill by sending unauthorized messages to premium text services.
The report recommends that smartphone manufacturers start looking into memory encryption, streamline the release of software patches, and continue to exert oversight on app approval and revocation. While smartphone users may find it hard to keep track of all the different hardware options, software platforms, and updates that different phones use, it turns out all that chaos is helping to keep smartphones safe. As the report points out, anyone crafting malware for profit is going to have a tough time writing any universal code that will work on a majority of mobile devices, with so many varied phone configurations helping to discourage such actions.
Some of the best advice given for limiting the impact of potential phone hackers is going to the cloud, storing all important user data off the device. Combined with regular restoration of the phone to a clean OS install, such behavior could both prevent data loss and flush out any hidden malware that sneaks its way onboard.