MCC Daily Tribune Archive

July Crime Prevention Tip of the Month: Cell Phone Security


Cell Telephone Security

As cellular telephones and PDA’s become more technically advanced, criminals are discovering and utilizing new ways to target and attack victims and obtain personal, financial, and confidential data. In certain instances, text messages, e-mails, and telephone numbers are acquired and used for illegal purposes such as data and identity theft. MCC Public Safety wishes to share with the college community a number of recommended and effective methods to assist you in securing your cellular telephone and PDA communication devices.

·         Register your cellular telephone number with the National “Do Not Call List”. This will lessen your chances of receiving unwanted text messages and telemarketing calls. You can register your cellular and home telephone number at <<https://www.donotcall.gov/>>

·         Do not answer or respond to text messages from unknown persons or organizations/businesses. A popular method used by attackers is to send a text message or e-mail to your cell phone or PDA that prompts you to go to a website or open an attachment for additional information. When you do so, the 3rd party website installs tracking software and/or malicious code that allows the attacker access to information that is personal and confidential. In addition, once attackers gain access to your electronic device, they can use your cell phone or PDA to attack other electronic devices while masking or hiding the true identity of the attacker.

·         Activate, utilize, and monitor all security functions for your electronic devices. Carefully read the operator's manual that comes with your cell phone and PDA and make sure you know how to activate and monitor all security functions that come with your electronic devices. Check with the manufacturer and/or dealer of your electronic devices if you have any questions or need assistance activating any of the security functions.

·         Use caution where and when you post or make available your cell phone number and/or e-mail address. Attackers frequently use specialized software to scan online databases to obtain cell numbers and e-mail addresses of potential victims. When you limit the number of persons you provide contact data to, you effectively limit the chances of your data falling into the wrong hands.

·         Monitor your cell phone and internet bills on a monthly basis. Look for unwarranted cell phone or internet activity. Report all unwarranted or illegal activity to the service provider immediately. Always remember that your wireless devices can be subject to monitoring by an attacker using a scanning device that monitors the same frequency that your wireless device uses to transmit and receive messages. 

Specific Security Tips for Bluetooth Technology

·         Disable Bluetooth when not in use. If you are not transmitting and receiving data, disable the unit to prevent unauthorized access.

·         Use Bluetooth in “Hidden” Mode. Hidden mode will not allow other Bluetooth devices to recognize and gain access to your Bluetooth device without preventing your use of your Bluetooth device. You can “pair” devices so they can discover the other “paired” device without having to disable the hidden mode function.

·         Be aware where you use your Bluetooth device or pair your Bluetooth device. Public wireless “hotspots” increase the possibility of an attacker intercepting your wireless signal.

·         As with your cellular telephone and/or PDA device, be aware of all the security functions that come with your Bluetooth device and know how to activate and monitor those security functions.

By following these basic security tips, you can increase the level of personal and confidential data protection when using your Cellular Telephone, PDA, or Bluetooth device. For additional information and to receive security updates on computer and electronic devices visit the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team website at https://www.us-cert.gov/index.html and follow the “Alerts and Tips” link.

Another Crime Prevention Tip from your MCC Crime Prevention Team

Lee Struble
Public Safety
07/14/2009