By Barron K. Henley, Esq. and Paul J. Unger, Esq.
If you are going to access confidential client information on your phone, it is essential that you employ security. Phones are extremely easy to lose and they can be compromised by worms, phishing and hacking (smartphones can be accessed through public Wi-Fi, Bluetooth capabilities, malware and other methods). Below are some of your options.
1. Password protection
At a minimum, you need to password protect your smartphone and all of the major players offer this. In other words, the phone can't be used without entering a password.
Most smartphones have encryption capabilities built in and this functionality is also available via many apps which one could install on a smartphone. The point is, encryption is available and you should be using it.
3. Remote wipe
This is the ability to remotely destroy all data on your phone. If someone steals it (or you lose it), you would be able to delete all of the information. All major cell smartphones allow for this (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Phone 7). There are also apps that will perform this function such as Lookout Mobile Security, which works for Android, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices.
4. Firewalls and antivirus software
Particularly if you use your phone to access the Internet or email, you should consider firewall and antivirus software. Smartphones are vulnerable to the same types of issues that can affect personal computers.
5. Beware of Bluetooth
If you leave your phone's Bluetooth functionality turned on and "visible," it's possible for hackers to gain access to your phone without you knowing. Therefore, if you're going to leave Bluetooth turned on, you should adjust the phone settings so that it isn't visible to others and disable contact transfer ability if that is an option.
6. Consider remote tracking tools
There are apps such as the aforementioned Lookout Mobile Security which will allow you to track the location of your cell phone on a GPS map (assuming that it is turned on).
7. Backup your phone often
All smartphones have some type of backup utility. Some backup options store the backed up data on your personal computer and some store it on a secure web server. Whatever options are available to you, make sure you use them.
8. Research your apps
Make sure that the apps you decide to load are safe and are not compromising the security of your phone or otherwise transmitting personal information back to the creator of the app. If you Google the name of the app you're considering loading, you can typically find out a lot of information about it. If you can't find any information about the app you're considering, then I wouldn't load it. Be particularly wary of free apps.