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Your McMurray Tech Talk

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Mobile Security

I’m not sure people realize just how much the devices they use on a daily basis are worth. Look at the cell phone you use - iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or even the rare BlackBerry still out there in the wild. These devices cost upwards of $700 - $900. Of course we are able to get them at a discount by signing a contract through a service provider and then paying anywhere near $100 a month just to use it. Not to mention the $500 - $700 iPad or other tablet you also carry around with you. That’s about $2,000 just in mobile hardware that you have with you on a daily basis. Is it protected? Maybe through a hard case that can withstand drops to the ground, like an OtterBox, or maybe you have it insured when you first purchased it. While we may consider insurance to be just a cash grab for a cell phone, imagine dropping the device a few weeks after getting it. That $10 a month doesn’t seem all that much now does it?

Let’s go a little deeper. What do you have on these devices? Contacts, emails, pictures…all of which could be incredibly sensitive; then you have your apps. I believe we all know how important social media has become, so imagine if someone is able to gain free access to your Facebook...or worse yet, your browser history or draft tweets!

These days, lots of people are willing to sacrifice security for convenience, and I don’t understand it. During the iPhone 5s announcement, Apple revealed that over half of smartphones users do not use the simple passcode that locks your device after a certain period of time. How many apps do you have currently running on your device with the “Remember Me” or “Remember this info” selected? Banking apps where you don’t need to enter your log-in information, consumer apps where you don’t have to enter your PayPal or Credit Card info, or worst yet, an app that lets you store all of your passwords. If your mobile device is lost and somehow picked up by someone else, all of your information is now compromised.

Surprisingly enough, protecting and securing your mobile devices is extremely easy. All Operating Systems have the passcode feature that requires you to enter something as simple as a four digit number to access your device. The iPhone 5s has the new Touch ID feature that actually uses your fingerprint to unlock the device as well as make purchases. Android has the Face Unlock feature that uses facial recognition software to lock your device as well. All Apple devices also have the “Find My iPhone” system, which oddly enough is for both iPhone and iPad. This feature, used via iCloud, allows you to track your device as well as be able to erase it via any computer with Internet access. The only trick to remember to ensure the “Find My iPhone” settings are activated on the device before it gets lost.

Speaking of iCloud, I have to give Apple kudos for implementing a new feature into all iOS 7 devices called the “Apple ID Lock” Activation Lock. In the past, if your iPhone was lost or stolen, it was always possible for the device to be erased and rebooted even if it was locked. Once it was rebooted, the iPhone would essentially be brand-new and anyone could use it for themselves. With the iOS 7 upgrade, all devices are now locked to the first person who enters their Apple ID onto the device. If a device has been erased, the former user will have to enter their Apple ID and Password in order for the device to be re-activated. Now, for those users who still like to buy their second-hand products, there’s no need to fret just yet. As long as everything is legal with a transaction, you can still operate a used Apple device as long as the previous owner enters their credentials either on the device directly or via the iCloud website. Anyone who purchases a high-value device like an iPad or iPhone will be thankful for this feature as it prevents people who “find” lost devices (or those who straight up stole them) to just use the device or just sell it on their own.

We use these devices so much in our daily lives that having sensitive information stored on them is a given. There are some amazing features and apps designed to handle this type of confidential information, but they are only good if they are used. If you want to have one-touch access to your all your apps on your phone, I strongly recommend ensuring your device is protected at the very least by a simple passcode. Now, to find an app that will fulfill my dying wish, an app that will automatically deleted my browser history and draft tweets!

Featured Device

On the topic of mobile security, I have to recommend one of the best security apps I’ve ever seen. Cerberus, currently only available on Android devices, is a complete anti-theft application; the best protection you can get to recover your misplaced, lost or stolen Android device. It has three ways to protect your device: remote control through the website, remote control via text messages, SIM Checker (for devices that have a SIM card) where you will automatically receive alerts if someone uses your phone with an unauthorized SIM card. Remote control allows you to perform many operations on your device, like: locate and track it, start a loud alarm even if the device is set to silent mode, wipe the internal memory and the SD card, record audio from the microphone, get a list of last calls sent and received, even take pictures remotely with the front or rear camera. There is a free trial for one week, and then you can buy a lifetime license for a small price from within the application. No monthly or yearly fees, just a one-time payment. The license is associated to your Cerberus account, so if you have multiple devices you can use all of them (up to five) with the same account. This is truly a can’t miss app for all your Android devices. Visit


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