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Securing your smartphone

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When Jeremy Banner sends sensitive information to others from his computer, he protects what he shares using encryption technology.

"I personally have had information stolen from me, my Social Security number," said Banner. "And I don't want to fall victim to that kind of thing again."

And Banner is interested in keeping his smartphone communication encrypted, too.

A growing number of apps and services are designed to keep the stuff you send from your smartphone secret.

"We live in a pervasive surveillance environment, and so more people are aware of it," said Philip Zimmerman, of Silent Circle. "That creates more market demand and that creates more products."

Zimmermann helped create Silent Text, which is part of the silent suite of services to protect all of your phone communication.

Other apps, like Chatsecure and Textsecure, will also encrypt your messages. Zimmermann said this kind of security doesn't have to be complicated.

"Some encryption software is easy enough to use that even your grandma could use it," he said.

There are options to encrypt your voice and video communications, too.

But an important point to know is the person you communicate with also needs the app in order to decrypt what you send.

"It takes two to tango," said Zimmermann. "Consumers are sort of stuck figuring out which one do they use and then convincing their friends to also use that app, too."

It's a little easier to lock down your internet activity on your phone.

Browsers like Orweb or Onion Browser help make you invisible online. Comparison shopping for services is advised.

"Do a little bit of research online and see what people are saying about them," said Christopher Soghoian, a principal technologist with the ACLU. "My general rule of thumb is that if the software is not open sourced, if an expert cannot look under the hood and see what's happening, then I don't want to use it."

Many of these services require a monthly fee.

"All of the secure communications apps that I know of tend to use the data connection, not the voice or text service," said Soghoian. "That may cost you more money."

And even when using encryption apps, there's always a possibility your communications could be compromised.

"They're not going to provide 100 percent security," said Soghoian, "but they're definitely an improvement."

But in Banner's opinion, any protection is better than none.

"If you don't use any kind of security," he said, "you're pretty much just leaving your car door unlocked and leaving your wallet on your seat."

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