Mobile phone security is more than just locating a lost device. Your phone contains access to your full contacts list, a way to search your entire gmail, dropbox, text messaging history, photo stream media, and social media identities. The laws protecting individuals from enforcement officers and government surveillance accessing the contents of your mobile phone under any suspicion currently favor police authority. The same way in Jay Z’s “99 Problems” the cops want to search his car, understanding your digital rights and how to secure your phone before surrendering your mobile device is especially a good idea.
- Step 1: Encrypt your phone. Without encryption, plugging your mobile device into a computer can reveal its entire contents even without knowing the screen passcode lock. Using the car example, a locked case inside your car’s trunk cannot be opened unless officially charged with a crime.
- Step 2: If you’re going through TSA Security or clearing International Customs, completely turn off your phone. If you’re selected for the freedom pat-down or detained, officers immediately confiscate your electronic devices. After hours of questioning, the goal of Homeland Security is to pressure individuals to self surrender their passwords. Using device encryption and the mobile phone security applications below, feel confident that within the time detained under questioning they’ll be unable to manufacture incriminating evidence.
- Bonus Step 3: Verbally invoke your right to stay silent. Stating your full family background, travel plans, personal story, or remaining completely silent will not legally protect you in any way or create officer sympathy to let you go. Enact your rights by audibly stating your rights.
TextSecure is an Android service to secure your SMS/MMS communications. When you send text messages across carrier networks, the contents of your message are essentially transparent to snooping parties and governments. Text Secure also encrypts the messages locally on your phone, so if it’s lost or stolen, your messages will be safe. The one difficulty of setting up a secure messaging app is enabling the contents of MMS picture messages to download which often requires a manual setup component.
Red Phone is an application that enables encrypted voice communication between RedPhone users. It is simple to set up by following the prompts, and when you call someone also using Red Phone, you will have the option to begin an encrypted conversation.
iPhone users can subscribe to Silent Circle, created by cryptography legend Phil Zimmermann. For $9.99 a month or $99 annually, being able to converse securely by video chat, text, or voice with business associates or speak truly with loved ones is an essential modern privilege.
Encrypting all of your mobile data will take time to set up so be sure you are plugged in to your charger before you start. Using a 40 character password is more secure, but who wants to try typing that in every time you want to use your phone? Methods such as Face unlock can easily be duplicated with a picture, but the near future will see biometric verification devices to secure the keys to our digitally connected lives – our mobile phones.