High-tech threats: How to stay safe with your smartphone

(CBS News) Smartphones are everywhere these days and nearly 100 million Americans have one, but carrying around a high-tech gadget also makes you vulnerable to high-tech threats.

New research from Consumer Reports' June issue shows that last year alone 7.1 million consumers had a smartphone that was irreparably damaged, lost or stolen and not recovered. However, these discarded phones have many security risks even in their unused state.

Protecting phone privacy

Consumer Reports' electronics editor, Paul Reynolds, told "CBS This Morning: Saturday" that they found more than 40 percent of smartphone users neglected to take basic precautions.

Some of the protections that consumers can use to protect themselves are to backup any data that is on the phone and to download apps that allow you to find your mobile device from a home computer if it goes missing.

One thing that can particularly help is using the phone's password protection option to lock the screen, which many people do not use because it can be a hassle.

"It's important if you use the phone for a lot of apps and have a lot of information on it. If you're a very, very minimal user, maybe not," said Reynolds. "It's a little bit of an inconvenience. But for most people it's probably something worth doing."

Also, the magazine found that some apps allow smartphones to reveal users' whereabouts and release privacy details that put home computers at risk.

To avoid this, he suggested that consumers only buy apps from trusted sites, such as Apple and Google Play and to stay away from third-party companies.

Consumers should also be conscious of what information they're giving out and figure out if what the app requires actually "makes sense." In his research, he found weather apps that asked for access to contacts, which is something they would never need.

For Paul Reynolds' full interview, watch the video in the player above.

  • Shoshana Davis

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