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For professionals and consumers alike, smartphones and tablets are quickly replacing desktops and laptops. But given the growing popularity of these devices, criminals' interest is increasing too, bringing with it a bigger threat of loss, theft and exposure to viruses and malware.
Fortunately, there are plenty of security measures you can take to stay safe. Check out these five strategies -- and corresponding apps -- to help you carry them out:
1. Encrypt and back up your essential data.
Keeper safely cocoons your contact info and sensitive business data within a layer of 128-bit military-grade encryption, archiving it online for immediate retrieval. You can synchronize records across multiple devices, from desktops to tablets, and quickly restore missing files. Your files are only accessible by use of maximum-strength passwords. If hackers unsuccessfully try to log in five times, archived data self-destructs, permanently putting it beyond the reach of offenders.
Available on: iPhone, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Android devices
2. Protect your devices from viruses and theft.
Security App: Webroot Mobile Security
Harmful apps and websites disguised as legitimate resources are getting harder to spot, even for IT professionals. By perpetually scanning for, detecting and preventing mobile threats, Webroot Mobile Security [disclosure: Webroot is the sponsor of IT Insider Online] stops malicious programs dead in their virtual tracks. It also keeps your data and your device safe: If you lose your phone, you can track its location online, lock the device or SIM card, activate emergency alerts or remotely wipe personal information. Options to block calls, stop spam and end unwanted text messages on-demand are just an added bonus.
Available on: Android devices
3. Safeguard your passwords.
Security App: LastPass
Often find yourself tearing your hair out trying to remember all of your passwords? Save time (and follicles) by storing them in a single, secure online vault, accessible via one master login. Capable of warehousing an endless supply of personal access codes, LastPass even lets you import existing PINs and ciphers from other programs or share logins with colleagues -- without exposing them to digital snoops.
Available on: Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, webOS and Symbian devices
4. Hide recent activity, messages and calls.
Security App: History Eraser
As any working professional knows, it pays to have a clean record. Now your smartphone can help. History Eraser lets you wipe everything from your search history, call log, SMS messages and clipboard text with a single touch. The app prevents nosy sorts and intruders from seeing what you've been up to recently -- and with whom.
Available on: Android devices
5. Ensure your privacy during voice calls.
Security App: Kryptos
If you're paranoid (rightfully so or otherwise) about corporate espionage, try Kryptos: It uses 256-bit encryption (so secure, it's suitable for use by the armed forces to scramble voice calls) to keep eavesdroppers from overhearing sensitive conversations. The app is compatible with a range of devices using 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi networks.
Available on: Android, BlackBerry and iPhone