Book Image

Mobile Security: How to Secure, Privatize, and Recover Your Devices

Book Image

Mobile Security: How to Secure, Privatize, and Recover Your Devices

Overview of this book

The threat of hacking may be the most damaging on the internet. Mobile technology is changing the way we live, work, and play, but it can leave your personal information dangerously exposed. Your online safety is at risk and the threat of information being stolen from your device is at an all- time high. Your identity is yours, yet it can be compromised if you don't manage your phone or mobile device correctly. Gain the power to manage all your mobile devices safely. With the help of this guide you can ensure that your data and that of your family is safe. The threat to your mobile security is growing on a daily basis and this guide may just be the help you need. Mobile Security: How to Secure, Privatize, and Recover Your Devices will teach you how to recognize, protect against, and recover from hacking attempts and outline the clear and present threats to your online identity posed by the use of a mobile device. In this guide you will discover just how vulnerable unsecured devices can be, and explore effective methods of mobile device management and identity protection to ensure your data's security. There will be special sections detailing extra precautions to ensure the safety of family members and how to secure your device for use at work.
Table of Contents (21 chapters)
Mobile Security: How to Secure, Privatize, and Recover Your Devices
About the Authors
About the Reviewers
Tips to Help You Protect Your Mobile Device
The History of Social Networking, the Internet, and Smartphones

Mobile purchasing and identification methods – who needs credit cards?

Social networking and shopping aren't the only things that have gone mobile. Just as other activities have been modified for the mobile space, so have our identification and payment methods. If a customer is not physically present, but is instead ordering an item through a virtual store accessed by their smartphone, how can they present their ID?

CueCats and QR codes

There was a time when, if someone wanted to purchase something, they might write a check. By the late 1990s, checks had been largely replaced by credit cards for most transactions. In either case, however, a customer would often be asked to provide a form of ID such as a driver's license to verify that the name on the check or credit card was their own. The next evolution in this vein might well be the usage of smartphones, thus eliminating the need to carry both a credit card and an ID to make purchases.

In 1999, Digital Convergence Corporation released the CueCat. The CueCat was a small device which was, appropriately enough, shaped like a house cat. The purpose of the device was to redirect a user, through scanning a barcode or through an audio tone broadcast during a television program, to a particular website. The idea was that a user could automatically be routed to a website through another medium, such as print or television without the need to enter in a URL or to search for a company through a search engine. While the device was ultimately unsuccessful, it foretold the later developments in the mobile space.

Today, the concept of a barcode containing a variety of personal or company information has evolved into the Personal QR, or Quick Response Code (QR Code). To many, the Personal QR Code will look like little more than a random series of black and white pixels within a small box. However, this box can contain a website address, product specifics, or even personal information. Put another way, a QR box can contain any sort of information. So, you might ask, how does one access this information? You may be surprised; all you need is your smartphone.

To enable your smartphone to read the QR boxes, whether it is an iPhone or a Galaxy S, all you need to do is download a QR reader app. There are a bewildering number of apps which can perform this function; a search on the Apple App Store for QR Reader, for example, will yield 559 results. Once downloaded, a user can use this app wherever they see a QR code box. Recently, big-box stores have been the most aggressive in creating these QR boxes for customer convenience; a March 2012 article by consumer advocate website Adage relates how Macy's, BestBuy, and Post Cereals were just a few of the companies that were expanding the QR box usage in their stores and on their products ( In the case of Bestbuy and Macy's, the companies attached the QR boxes next to the product information displays in their stores. If a customer so chose, they could scan this box using a QR app on their smartphone and obtain pricing and product information.

Recently, some governments and companies have even begun to use the QR codes for official uses. In China, the tickets for bullet trains have been augmented with a QR code to combat ticket fraud and passenger impersonation. Placed on the bottom-right corner of a ticket, the QR code can contain the passenger's name and more worryingly, the passenger's passport or other personal identification number ( In 2011, the Royal Dutch Mint even issued an official coin with a QR code which would route a user to a website about the Royal Mint's centennial. The company Hackerspace created the world's largest QR code in 2010 by painting on the top of their company building in Charlotte, North Carolina (

Keep an eye out for updates; see for the latest record for the largest QR code.

Creating a QR code is actually a relatively simple process. With the following steps, you can create your own QR code box for personal use:

  • First, find a QR code generator online. This can be done by simply searching for one, through the search engine of your choice., for example, hosts a reliable QR code generator on their website. (

  • Next, choose what sort of information you wish to enter into your QR code. Different generators will provide you with different categories. Using Kaywa's generator as an example, allows you to categorize your information as a phone number, an SMS text message, a URL, or as a plain text. Enter the information you wish to encode into the QR box, and click on the Submit or Generate button.

  • The QR code should appear on your screen. Where it appears may vary depending on the automated generator you chose.

  • Now, you can simply save the image to your hard drive. (Right-click on the image and click on save as.)

    The following screenshot shows the basic process:

  • Congratulations! You have created a QR code. It should look something like this:

Now that the QR box image is saved to your hard drive, all you have to do is choose where to post it. The options are numerous, and should depend upon what sort of information you've chosen to place into your QR code. If the information is about your company or business venture, you might place the QR code on your company's website. If it's a URL for your personal portfolio, you might place the QR code on your resume to allow potential employers a convenient and automated link to your work. The QR box can, as mentioned previously, contain almost any information imaginable. How you use it, of course, is up to you.


You may notice that we are using as the destination for our QR code. This URL, originally reserved by Internet Engineering Task Force in 1999, is a common tool for technology experts when they wish to test certain technologies. In this case, we've used to test the QR codes. Did it work for you?

Mobile finance – buying and selling in the mobile marketplace

The advent of smartphones, along with their associated App Stores, has allowed for new methods of monitoring and spending money. While mobile banking has been around for a while now, banks including Chase and Washington Mutual have recently released apps that allow their customers to conduct all necessary transactions from the convenience of their smartphones.

The convenience of this new ability is evident; imagine that you just went to the store to purchase some Christmas gifts, but you didn't remember which account you'd organized the necessary funds for in anticipation of your purchase. Normally, you might have to find the nearest bank branch to check on your balance and rearrange funds. With these banking apps, you can simply log into your account and make the necessary changes while you wait in line to purchase your gifts. Recently, Chase has even added a new feature that allows their customers to transfer funds to other Chase bank customers by simply having their smartphone and the smartphone of their recipient in close proximity. In later chapters, we'll discuss how this convenience carries with it a number of associated risks, and why it may, in some cases, not always be the best idea.

On some occasions, smartphones have even made it possible to purchase goods without needing a credit card or cash. Recently, Salt Lake City has implemented a method of paying for parking by using smartphones. To be able to pay for parking with this method, visitors only need to download the Quick Pay app from the Android or Apple App Stores. After setting up an account through the app, customers can then automate the process through their smartphone ( One early example of using a device for e-commerce is from an example in Asia. In Singapore, one can even buy a Coca-Cola with only your smartphone. This development may be one of the oldest applications of smartphone purchasing possibilities, as it was first introduced back in 2001 ( Although these purchasing methods have not yet spread to other cities, these practices should still be seen as a sign of things to come; the ease of using a smartphone for transactions may be too alluring for businesses to long ignore.

Because of the bewildering possibilities afforded by App Stores, smartphones are increasingly being utilized as a method of simplifying our most common financial transactions. Today, we can use our smartphones to check our account balance, transfer funds from one account to another, pay for parking, purchase products through various online outlets, and even take payment for goods on those occasions when we are the ones selling goods. Although there are still some limits to what our smartphones can do, we should expect that these limits will only continue to recede as the capabilities of these devices are further realized.