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Profitt Report: How to protect the sensitive information on your smart phone

Photo credit: MGN

We use our smart phones, computers and tablets for everything from photo-storage to banking, making our tech susceptible to hackers.

“Security is partly how much you're protecting and partly how much you're paying,” said Dr. George Corser, assistant professor of computer science and information systems at Saginaw Valley State University.

The best security system? One that takes no money and little effort on your part said Corser.

“So, the question I ask myself is ‘what do I have exposed? What's on my phone I need protected? Do I do banking on my phone?’” Corser said.

Because if you do, that data could be exposed. Earlier this year, we learned about security flaws on just about every device made in the last few decades. These vulnerabilities are dubbed Meltdown and Spectre.

“The problem is with the microchip. The microchip is in all kinds of phones and also other computers,” Corser said, “your microchip has memory on it, storage. That storage can be exposed, programs could get access to that information.”

Programs with intentions to steal your information. Corser said this isn’t an isolated problem: flaws like this have been and will continue to pop up if we are using these devices. So the real question is: how do we protect ourselves long term?

“I recommend getting a system, because if you have a system, whatever vulnerability, the next one that comes along, that particular system will update it and automatically patch your phone,” he said.

Corser said you can download a patch, or a security system, onto your device.

“This is the one I use, it's a Kaspersky free,” Corser said, “I wanted to see how slow it made my phone.”

Because that’s the tradeoff: that patch will take up some space on your device. Corser said it’s up to you to weigh the cost-benefits of downloading.

“As a citizen, I’m more worried about my elected leaders protecting their phones than I am about me protecting my phone, because if they have information that's important on their devices, which they will, then that's the public's protected information too,” Corser said.

It should be noted, there are no known problems from Meltdown or Spectre as of today.

The Profitt Report wants to hear from you - please send consumer questions and story ideas to ProfittReport@WSMH.com

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