If you have bought a new cell phone recently, you have seen that the technology of the newest smart phones is far more advanced than in the past, and have features that most people don’t understand or use.
When I conduct employee education for companies on data privacy and security, I devote a portion of the session to teaching employees about their smart phones, because most people don’t understand even the basic components of their phones, let alone how to activate appropriate privacy or security settings on them.
I recently engaged a salesperson at a well-known technology retail store in a conversation about their responsibility to teach consumers the basics of privacy and security settings and the capabilities of phones when they sell consumers these mini-computers. I was met with a nod and “Yes, we should,” which is a good customer relations response, but the problem continues that people buy millions and millions of devices and have no concept of the risk they pose.
Why is it important that employees understand how powerful the microphone on their phone is, or that when they click “I agree” when they download an app that they are allowing that company full access to everything that is said in that person’s personal and professional life? For that very reason—the confidentiality of personal and business information is lost when the microphone is on and capturing all information at all times. This is a basic capability of a smart phone that, surprisingly, most people don’t understand.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has great resources for consumers to learn about technology (like cell phones) they are buying from the technology giants, understand their capabilities, and use settings and other strategies to enhance privacy and security, since the manufacturers are not providing basic training on the risks associated with the technology.
The EFF offers “Surveillance Self-Defense—Tips, Tools and How-Tos for Safer Online Communications,” and other popular guides, including “Creating Strong Passwords,” “Assessing Your Risks,” “Protecting Yourself on Social Networks,” “How to: Use Signal on IOS and Android,” and “How to: Enable Two-Factor Authentication,” and “How Strong Encryption Can Help Avoid Online Surveillance.”
The guides are easy to understand and super helpful for both individuals and companies that are providing privacy and security awareness campaigns to employees.