SmartphoneAs phones become smarter, they also become more vulnerable to attacks.  And most users don’t use even basic protection, according to a new study from GetSafeOnline.org.

The new study found that 67% of smartphone users don’t password protect their phone.  Without password protection, the phone is completely vulnerable.  If the phone is left unattended, lost, or stolen, whoever has it can access the owners contacts, social networks, sometimes even banking information.

But even password protection can be easily defeated in many cases. A study of smudge prints was done at the University of Pennsylvania this month.  They found that they could reveal the phone’s password by taking a picture of the smudges on the touchscreen – 68% of the time. 

Virus attacks are another growing concern.  Intel, whose microchips are increasingly being used to power today’s smartphones, bought software security firm McAfee earlier this month. Their hope is that McAfee’s programmers can help Intel design a program that goes directly into the chip to protect it from virus type attacks on smartphones.

Experts suggest that consumers protect their phones in the same way they protect their regular computers.  This includes not clicking on unknown links or links in spam. Not downloading apps from untrusted sources. And making sure the phone’s operating system stays up to date.

For the case of a phone being lost or stolen, there are remote locking and wiping programs that will lock out or even remotely delete all the information on your phone. 

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