Internet safety has been growing in importance and in exposure throughout the last decade as we slowly begin to realise the dangers the internet can pose and develop more holistic ways of tackling internet safety issues. In recent years internet safety has slowly started to be introduced into classrooms, companies are creating better internet safety monitoring software and better anti-virus software. The government, telecommunications companies and internet service providers are offering detailed guides to keeping you and your family safe on the internet – such as Vodafone’s Parents Guide. With everything that has been happening in the public sphere internet safety is becoming increasingly ingrained in the way we treat the internet; however, internet safety continues to be problematic and increasingly we now have to face the problems of Smartphone internet safety.
For traditional internet access, via laptops and personal computers, we now have a vast range of security software and protection measures we can use and implement to keep ourselves and our families safe. Few of us are without internet security software in this day and age and many of us are using parental control software and monitoring our children’s use of the internet closely.
Conversely the response to potential security issues on smartphones and other mobile devices has been incredibly slow. When smartphones first entered the market few realised the full potential they would have and now they have become one of the core ways we access the internet; there are in fact more smartphones than computers in the UK. As our online access through smartphones continues to grow exponentially, so do the security risks. Criminals have found hundreds of new ways to target our smartphones and to take advantage of our security gap in perception – we assume that our smartphones are secure in the same way we assume our toaster is secure. For some reason we tend to think our gadgets are more secure! However, new data has shown how problematic smartphones can be with the Android platform receiving over 200,000 new infections a month the iPhone is more secure but still problematic and in China alone more than 10,000 malicious apps were detected in July. Malware attacks are stealing data through phone hacking and through malicious apps and comprising thousands of users private details every day.
In response many companies have released their own security software to improve smartphone safety. McAfee recently released its own security software specifically for the smartphone platforms and many other providers are expected to follow suit. However, for many of us we need to start being more careful with our smartphones and we need to make sure that we are protecting our family when they are using smartphones.
Most smartphones now come with some form of parental controls. These options can let you block adult material and inappropriate or harmful content from your children’s searching. Activating these controls can be done yourself or in stores and it is a very good idea to check these are activated. On your own phone you will also want to examine your security settings and consider purchasing security software for all phones within your household. This will offer you a greater deal of protection.
However, in addition we also need to rethink our use of smartphones and our families’ use of smartphones. When it comes to safe browsing we need to keep educating ourselves and our families about internet safety and how to use online services appropriately. Typical internet safety lessons still apply to the smartphone sphere but we also now need to educate our children (and ourselves) about the dangers of downloading illegal Apps, unrecognised app providers and what information we should share with App providers and across smartphones. While internet safety is forefront in many of our minds when it comes to smartphones we all need to be more cautious and to build solid defences. When it comes to our children we need to start monitoring their smartphone use more carefully, prevent them from downloading potentially harmful Apps and make sure they understand that a smartphone poses very real internet safety dangers.