Is it not amazing how powerful these smartphones we carry around are? They are tiny computers which allow us to do almost everything our computer at home or work can do. I can browse the web, play games, view my bank account, purchase merchandise, take pictures, email and send a messages instantly with my smartphone. However, with all of these functions, and because phones have become so powerful, they have also become a target of viruses and scammers. Here are two examples of security threats you should know about.

The first is SMiShing. This is the mobile version of phishing. We have all seen a phishing email; it’s an email that looks like it came from a credible source. It always has a link for you and usually some kind of a warning that explains if you don’t click on the link, your account will be locked. My favorite phishing emails usually contain multiple misspelled words. “Please reply-to: acountupdate@gmal.com.” One thing in common with all phishing emails is they are trying to get personal information from you.

SMiShing is doing the same thing only in a text message. You might get a text message saying, “ Please call us immediately at 1-800 number about recent suspicious activity on your account. Thank you.” If you call, the person you talk with will then try and get account numbers, routing numbers, usernames and passwords.

The most important thing to understand is 95% of companies will not contact you through a text message requesting your attention. The best thing to do is ignore those messages. Don’t reply to them, don’t click a link in them and don’t call any number listed in the text.

Another threat involves “Jailbreaking” or “Rooting”. Jailbreaking is removing the restrictions of the operating system of an iPhone or iPad. Rooting is doing the same thing with Android phone or tablet. Once you have removed these restrictions, you have access to many more apps. The problem with this is these apps have not been approved by Apple or Google and increase the possibility of having an app that contains a virus or malware.

Although jailbreaking and rooting allow you access to more apps and give you the ability to customize your phone more, the risks associated are too great. The best thing is to stay away from these modifications. Besides, if you are caught, you could go to jail for up to 5 years and fined up to $500,000. Of course that is a different topic.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Chris Griesemer 417-881-0145.

Chris serves as Partner and Director of Information Technology Services at The Whitlock Company.