Trojan horse texts
Some attackers will send spam text messages to your mobile phone that appear to be from your network provider or financial institution.
These Trojan horse text messages may direct you to a malicious site or request permission to install an update that will change the settings on your mobile phone to allow the attackers to capture usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information from your device.
Go to the source for updates and news
If you receive a text message that appears to be from a trustworthy source, but it directs you to install or update software, or if it initiates the installation and requests permission to continue, immediately exit the text-messaging app and contact the customer service department for the wireless provider or business in question to verify whether the software is legitimate.
You may receive a lot of unsolicited email from companies that you do business with email that you might even regard as spam - but reputable companies will not send you unsolicited links and updates via email.
Similarly, reputable companies will not send unsolicited text messages to your mobile device directing you to install an update or download new software.
Attackers prey on your tendency to trust your wireless provider or financial institution.
Do not blindly accept software updates or download applications to your mobile phone simply because the text message appears to be official. If in any doubt, follow up with your wireless provider or with the business.
Lost laptops, exposed data
The portability of laptops and mobile phones is convenient, of course, but that same portability means that such devices are easily lost or stolen.
If your laptop, netbook, phone, or other device falls into the wrong hands, unauthorised users may access the sensitive data that you've stored there.
Encrypt your data
You can use a utility such as Microsoft's BitLocker to encrypt data.
Unfortunately, BitLocker is available only for Windows Vista and Windows 7, and even then it's exclusive to the Ultimate and Enterprise editions of those OS' (and is also available in Windows Server 2008); you won't find the tool in the consumer versions of Vista and Windows 7.
Fortunately, BitLocker isn't the only game in town. You can use another encryption program, such as TrueCrypt (available for free under open-source licensing), to protect your data from unauthorised access.
Encrypting your data is not without a pitfall or two, however. The biggest issue is to ensure that you always possess the key. If you lose your encryption key, you will quickly discover just how good encryption is at keeping out unauthorised users.
NEXT PAGE: More tips for avoiding exposing your data if a laptop is lost