Back to School With a Smartphone

Fall’s around the corner, and students will be returning to school, many of them with new smartphones or tablets. Is there any doubt that smartphones are here to stay?  A recent Nielsen study said:

During Q2 2012 smartphone penetration continued to grow, with 54.9 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers owning smartphones as of June 2012. This growth is driven by increasing smartphone purchases: 2 out of 3 Americans who acquired a new mobile phone in the last three months chose a smartphone instead of a feature phone.

Now that smartphones seem to be part of the mainstream of American culture, it’s time for users to catch up on the basics of mobile safety. It took a while to get PC safety under control back in the day, but we eventually learned the rules. Since we now have that background in PCs, let’s hope learning smartphone safety doesn’t end up being a long, drawn-out process. Kids, young and old, especially need to be aware of all the possibilities that exist when they take on the responsibility of mobile gadgetry and online social schmoozing.

A (somewhat) comical article by Steve Ragan in last month highlighted how astonishingly uninformed (to state it politely) some people are when it comes to sharing information.  Apparently, some young individuals actually tweeted Instagram photos of their credit cards! For whatever reason, it must not have crossed the minds of these people that those photos were doomed to be shared far and wide. Here’s a quote from the same article:

“According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, 8.6 million American households experienced identity theft in 2010, with unauthorized credit card use accounting for much of the increase from the 6.4 million households victimized in 2005. Families lost a total of $13.3 billion, with an average of $2,200 lost per household affected. A 2011 report from Javelin Strategy & Research cited by the Wall Street Journal said social media and smartphone use accounted for recent increases in identity theft.”

Teens and college kids are often technologically super-savvy when it comes to using mobile devices, and they operate all the phones’ bells and whistles like pros.  Unfortunately, they don’t always take the time to learn the safety rules, perhaps the first one being – don’t post photos of your credit cards! In fact, it’s a good idea to refrain from posting anything – text or image – that you don’t want the entire world to see.  Ask some Hollywood celebrities whether this is true.

As a refresher, here are some basic mobile security rules:

  • Be discerning about posting photos and personal information online.
  • Don’t tweet photos of your credit cards
  • Download a reliable, strong mobile security app to guard you against unwanted intrusions and malware.
  • Turn off your geo-location tools when you aren’t using them.
  • Don’t click on anything that you didn’t invite, including ads, text messages and voicemail
  • Avoid Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Use a strong, complex password on your smartphone that’s different from ones you use in other applications.
  • Understand that your private information is valuable to someone, and guard it carefully.

Have you experienced a mishap from posting something online that you shouldn’t have? What were the consequences?  Tell us your stories.  We’d love to hear from you on our blog or on our Facebook page.  Don’t give us personal details, though!

Smartphone Manners – a reality check

Let’s be honest — no lectures, reprimands or rebukes will change the behavior of some people who are hopelessly addicted to their smartphones, so we won’t even try. Instead, let’s look at some of the more subtly aggravating habits we might be unaware of when we’re out and about with our treasured phones, and see if maybe we, ourselves, could be guilty of offensive smartphone behaviors.

And furthermore…

A woman is standing in the entrance area of a local department store having a loud, intense argument on her smartphone.  What’s worse is the argument is about some business policy with which she disagrees, and she’s venting her spleen about everything she hates when it comes to her employer.  She catches the eye of a passer-by, and rolls her eyes at what she’s hearing – making sure the stranger realizes that she’s right about this, and the party at the other end of the line is just being ridiculous! She not only doesn’t care if you hear the conversation, she subtly invites you to get involved and take her side.

Who needs a list?

In the grocery store, another woman plans her weekly dinner menu by calling home and discussing details of what the family wants to eat, and what ingredients she should buy.  This is not a big deal, except that she’s moving her cart slowly in front of the olives and salad dressing, oblivious to those who might want to grab something or peruse the merchandise.  And, did we really want to hear her construct the entire week’s soups and casseroles when we’re trying hard just to remember the few things we need?

I love you more…

A teenage boy decides to stop and text his girlfriend at a stoplight.  Traffic’s heavy. His thumbs are flying fast but, alas, the light changes to green. However…he’s not quite finished. He begins to accelerate, ever so slowly, as he finishes his message – a line of traffic behind him hoping to avoid the next red light by clinging to the bumper ahead. Finally realizing he’s holding up the entire town, he steps on it and bolts ahead, leaving a string of cars to race against the yellow light. Nice goin’, kid.

Check-out time – double-meaning

A guy at the bookstore waits in front of you for his turn to make his purchase.  However, he’s in the middle of a dialogue on his phone.  When the cashier summons him, he sleepwalks to the counter and never misses a beat in his conversation. He talks throughout the entire transaction – the credit card, signature, the polite thank-you from the clerk – and never acknowledges the humanity of anyone around him. He’s in another world – you and the cashier both get the feeling you’re disturbing him by being there.

Alright, none of this is really relative to mobile security or safety.  But, let’s face it – if we’re going to participate in this mobile society we need to be considerate of others in addition to taking care of ourselves.  Sometimes mobile privacy is something we wish other people wanted.

And, speaking of mobile privacy, don’t forget to check out NQ Mobile’s amazing security and privacy apps for your smartphone today.

What’s your pet peeve about smartphone users? Are you one of the polite folks who goes to a quiet corner to talk, or do you have your conversation, regardless of where you are? Vent your frustrations on our blog, or visit our Facebook page.  We’d like to hear your stories.

Smartphones at School – Tools or Toys?

Are your kids headed off to school with a new smartphone this year?

When all around them is chaos – at the cafeteria, playing field or local snack shop – and they aren’t paying attention, lots of things can happen. Smartphones at school can give your kids an advantage when it comes to learning and safety, but they need to know the rules. Here are a few tips to teach your kids.

1. Keep your phone with you at all times. You don’t need to carry it in your hand, but always check your purse, pocket or backpack to be sure it’s with you. Don’t lend your phone to friends for anything other than a quick emergency call.

2. Don’t store photos or videos that might hurt you, or others, if they were to be made public. Never assume it’s alright to shoot and share your friends’ activities – always ask for their permission first. Don’t use your phone to embarrass others by catching them at awkward moments.

3. Always keep your phone locked and safely passworded. Don’t leave it open to prying eyes of other students.

4. If you’re in the classroom, honor your instructor’s rules about smartphones. Use your phone to make you a better student, but don’t play games or text in class.

5. Don’t click on uninvited texts, ads or voicemail messages from strangers.

6. If you misplace your phone, know how to remotely set off its alarm, lock it and, if necessary, wipe away its data.

For parents, much of your angst about mobile security can be resolved by having a powerful safety product installed on all your family’s phones. It’s a good idea for the family to learn how to operate loss and theft controls, discuss passwords and understand safety measures. Parental control features can help you limit the time your kids spend texting and talking, and can also prevent them from happening upon inappropriate sites on the web.

We’re living in a new era of improved, rapid communication. The smartphone’s a phenomenal safety tool that can make a major difference in our lives. Your kids can reach you instantly in an emergency – you can track their physical location. They can talk to you or text you during the day – you can check out their social activities and be aware of their friends and interests. In earlier times, once the kids left for school, they simply were gone for the day, and a parent could only guess about how they were doing. It’s a great time to be a kid and a parent.

Do your kids have smartphones? Do you communicate with them during the day? Do your kids have a set of safety rules for their phones? Please join our discussion on Facebook or leave your comments on our blog. As always, we’d love to hear from you.

Making Your BYOD Policy Work

At this moment almost 110 million people in America own a smartphone. predicts that smartphone owners will be the new mobile majority by the end of this year. Especially when it comes to smartphones, there’s no stopping the BYOD movement (“bring your own device” to work). Most companies are resolved to that reality. Some have already implemented their own systems to shore up security, while others are still struggling to figure it out.

Should personal smartphones be allowed?

Most corporate heads agree that the best way to deal with this onslaught of technology is to ride the horse in the direction it’s going. In other words, establish a strong policy, regulate what data can be accessed and how, and require employees to follow specific security measures.  In response to that thinking, hundreds of enterprise-focused products and policy models have been released on the market to help companies solve the inevitable security problems that are bound to arise when people are using their personal phones to access company data.  But how can companies get their employees to incorporate new smartphone rules into their workday?  Glenn S. Phillips of Dark Reading makes a great point about compliance in the workplace in his article, Being Compliant Is Not Only Training And Rules, It’s CultureToo many organizations teach compliance instead of live it.

How do you enforce new rules?

Compliance with a corporation’s rules and regulations doesn’t magically happen with training workshops and seminars or compliance bulletins. In a healthy work environment, employees are more than willing to make adjustments and follow rules when they’re allowed to participate, they get the logic behind the rules, and they have concern for the well-being of the company. In order for employees to feel good about following a new set of security rules, a “culture of compliance” can be cultivated in a large group, beginning with a few simple steps:

  • Have your IT experts explain the potential security problems involved with personal phones accessing the company’s data systems.
  • Get everyone to agree that a new BYOD policy needs to be established and make employees a part of its creation.
  • Encourage employee input at all stages of the process, including figuring out the consequences if the rules are broken.
  • Establish an atmosphere of mutual trust – employees take care of the company, and the company takes care of them.
  • Discuss the benefits of smartphone use for company business, and encourage employees to share their ideas.

To make sure good mobile security habits are engrained in your company’ culture, include brief and easy reminders and security checks in the policy.

 All aboard!

Whether you’re an employee or employer, it’s important to get on board with a BYOD policy, and to feel comfortable that everyone’s willing to follow it.  New working habits don’t happen overnight – reminders, a free exchange of ideas and a positive atmosphere go a long way toward ensuring a healthy and secure enterprise.

BlogHer 2012 – The NQ Round-Up

The NQ Mobile staff is very grateful to the amazing bloggers who stopped by our booth at BlogHer 2012 to learn about our products, chat with us about the real-life challenges you’re facing, and give us feedback on what we’re doing. What a great group of smart, talented bloggers there are out there, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to meet so many of you!

The three-day-event, August 2 through August 4th, was fun and educational for all of us here at NQ Mobile and we made a lot of new friends and partners!  The input we received from people was invaluable, and our video stars were truly spectacular.

For those of you who weren’t at BlogHer this year, here’s a wrap-up of what bloggers (and others) stopped by our booth to do:

  • Learn all about NQ Mobile’s fabulous security and privacy apps
  • Try out the beta version of our upcoming family app, Family Guardian
  • Download our amazing new privacy app, Vault
  • Shoot videos of them discussing their concerns about kids and smartphones
  • Play our Facebook game – Flaunt it or Vault it
  • Enter our Family Guardian blogging contest (winners will be announced next week!)
  • Talk to our staff about potential partnership opportunities
  • Relax and enjoy a break with the NQ Mobile staff in our cozy “living room”

BlogHer 2012 was an enlightening, high-energy event – we wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  Again, thanks to all our new friends who came to see us at our booth.

NQ’s a Finalist for 2 Meffys Awards

It’s time for the Meffys, and we’re thrilled that two of our apps are up for awards. NQ Mobile Security is a finalist for the Meffys Consumer Trust Award and NQ Mobile Vault is a finalist for the Meffys Life Tools App Award. With a whopping 200 million users and glowing reviews, we’re hoping for a big win on Sept. 12, when MEF judges choose the winners of these incredible awards.

The Meffys are one of the most established and coveted global awards in the industry, and just being nominated is an honor. Being nominated twice—well, that’s just got every member of the NQ Mobile family grinning ear-to-ear this week. We’re especially happy with the categories we’ve been nominated for:

  • Customer Trust: Everything we do is centered on gaining and retaining the trust of our valued customers. We know that having 200 million users is very unique and hitting that milestone was one of our proudest moments.
  • Life Tools App: Building tools that make our users’ lives better and easier has been the key to our success since NQ’s inception. We’ve paid close attention to feedback about our apps from our users and from our media reviews, and this nomination shows us that our attention to detail has paid off.

Our most popular products—NQ Mobile Security and NQ Mobile Vault—have received glowing reviews from customers, journalists, and bloggers. In fact, Vault had nearly 2 million users of the beta version before it even launched. As many of our users have told us, Vault is one of those apps that people just don’t know how they lived without. We love to hear that!

The Meffys awards are truly the official benchmark for measuring success and rewarding innovation in our industry, and it’s great to be nominated for these highly respected awards. It really inspires us to keep innovating.

Our customers’ trust in us and our ability to deliver apps that change lives are two of the main drivers behind our newest product, NQ Family Guardian, which is already showing signs of the same level of success Mobile Security and Vault have achieved. We launched a beta version of this parental controls app at the BlogHer 2012 conference and the feedback was incredible. We’re using this feedback to make the product even better and expect to launch the complete version in September. This time next year, we hope this app will be up for a Meffy, too.

We’re proud of these two opportunities to join the dynamic start-ups and visionary leaders who have won Meffys awards in the past. To our valued customers, thanks for your support and keep your fingers crossed for our big win! We’ll find out on September 12, 2012 at a Gala Awards Ceremony at Park Lane Hotel, London, and we’ll keep you posted.