Smartphone Privacy: YouTube Video and Tips for Consumers

Smartphones store a tremendous amount of personal information. If your smartphone were lost or stolen, what information would someone be able to access?

  • Photos – Do you have photos on your smartphone that you wouldn't want your boss or certain friends or family to see? Do your photos reveal where you've been because you have the camera's GPS feature turned on? 

  • Emails – Do you sync your personal and/or work email accounts on your phone? Are archived and sent messages accessible? How far back do they go? 

  • Banking – Do you have apps installed that provide direct access to your banking account information? Is it possible to transfer money through the app? 

  • Social Networking – Do you have apps installed that provide direct access to your social networking accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?

  • Notes – Do you have any apps where you store notes or documents? Do any of those notes contain your Social Security number, medical information or financial account numbers?

The last in our short-film series, Smartphones: Protect Your Data explores the privacy implications of smartphones and offers practical tips to protect your privacy. In the 5-minute video, a college student named Josh misplaces his phone. Josh and his friend, Ashley, search for the phone, but can't find it. He becomes increasingly alarmed when he realizes what's at stake. Watch the video to see what happens.

Smartphone Privacy Tips

There are a number of security measures you can take to protect your smartphone's data. Four beginning steps (outlined in the film) are:

  1. Password protect your phone. As always, make sure you use a strong password. For tips on creating an effective password see PRC’s “10 Rules for Creating a Hacker-Resistant Password.” You can usually find the feature allowing you to set a password in the phone settings.
  2. Do not allow your smartphone to automatically remember login passwords for access to email, VPN, and other accounts.
  3. Use your phone’s security lockout feature.  Set the phone to automatically lock after a certain amount of time not in use.
  4. Install security software that allows you to remotely lock your phone and wipe the data.  Never leave your phone unattended.

For a more in-depth discussion on smartphones, read PRC’s Fact Sheet 2b: Privacy in the Age of the Smartphone.