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New Smartphone Owner? Pay attention

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Recent reports show smartphones are outselling dumbphones for the first time ever. Dumbphones are actually called feature phones, which is odd because they don't offer many features. Well, they do, like a camera, texting, crude internet access, and a few other extinct bells and whistles--but not as many as a smartphone.

The Wall Street Journal reports, "Smartphones accounted for 51.8 percent of mobile phone sales globally, research firm Gartner said.... The growth, up 46.5 percent compared with the same quarter last year, is driven by sales in the sub-$100 Android market." The fact that Android's lower prices reflect the rise in smartphones is significant due to the fact that Apple's new iPhone 5C will be priced at $100 or less and older-model iPhones can be had for pennies with a two-year contract.

This is big. This means millions and millions more people are now using smartphones. (My dad got his first smartphone with the iPhone 5. The man won't stop texting me pics of squirrels on his deck, deer in his yard and birds on the 30 feeders he has.)

The technology in smartphones today is just astounding. Whether you use an iPhone, Android or even a BlackBerry, having the world at your fingertips makes getting things done far more efficiently. Besides the obvious benefits of communications, multimedia and online shopping, a smartphone is a great way to save money. Just the other day, I went to a store to make a purchase and was floored by the cost of an item that I usually buy every two or three years. I immediately went online via my smartphone and found what I was looking for--for 90 percent less than what I had almost paid. Frankly, I don't know how brick-and-mortar shops survive when consumers have this kind of access to price comparisons.

Now that you are a new and proud smartphone owner, you must recognize you are no longer using simply a phone. It's a little computer. And can be hacked in the same way as that big one you have in your basement office. You can't carry this little PC around and not keep security in mind. So here's the guide to care and feeding of your little computer:

Operating system (OS). Update your operating system when required. The device itself has settings that will alert you to new updates. Never update your OS because you receive a text message telling you to do this. It's a scam.

Password protect it. This isn't a feature phone. It's a smart little computer that accesses applications and data. If your phone is lost or stolen, you want it password protected.

Invest in Locate/Lock/Wipe software. Whether built into the OS or downloaded as an app from a third party, get software that will remotely locate your device if it is lost, then will lock it if needed and wipe the data.

Protect your wireless. Not all wireless is created equal. Your carrier's 3G/4G has a level of encryption that's crackable, but unlikely to be cracked--whereas any open or free WiFi connection can expose your device and its data to criminals. Installing Hotspot Shield VPN (available for both  iPhone and Android) will encrypt all WiFi communications, protecting you. And it's free.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

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