Once upon a time, a phone was just a phone: It simply made and received calls. The only security you worried about was if someone had picked up in the other room to listen in.
Flash forward to 2011, and the line between phones and computers has all but vanished. In fact, your smartphone is likely more powerful and feature-rich than your desktop computer was just ten years ago.
With that increased utility, though, comes more vulnerability. Having a wealth of information--personal and otherwise--in your device makes your phone a target, and as the bad guys ramp up their efforts to infiltrate it, the good guys are gearing up their efforts to keep the bad guys out.
The short answer is yes, absolutely, more and more. The degree to which it matters, however, depends on the individual user, or the individual company.
Threats to your mobile security are not always easy to see. They range from the simple (such as when someone finds your phone and reads all of your e-mail) to the highly complex (such as Trojan horses, viruses, or third-party apps that share your personal information).
Here are some common security risks, with tips, tricks, and tools to combat them.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but don't put your phone down on a bar (especially if you work for Apple and have a prototype that no one is supposed to see). If you're in a public area, don't put it in a pocket or an open bag where it's visible and could be grabbed easily. Obvious suggestions, sure, but these kinds of on-the-street situations account for most cases of phone theft.
Set your phone to lock, or time out, after a certain period of inactivity, requiring a password to get back in. All of the major smartphone operating systems support this function.
You'll want your password to be something hard for you to forget and easy to type since you'll enter it frequently throughout the day, yet difficult for someone else to guess. Anything containing your name, information found on a driver's license, or a number as simple as "1234," for example, are not good passwords.
Here's how to find time-out settings on various smartphone OSs:
Remote wipe, plus the aforementioned password protection, is the bare minimum that most IT departments will require, although the specific steps you'll need to take very much depend on the level of security at your company.
Remote wipe means that if your phone is lost or stolen, you can remotely clear all of your data--including e-mail, contacts, texts, and documents--off of the handset, thus keeping that information out of the wrong hands.
You or your IT department can set this feature up for any of the major OSs, as well as use Microsoft Exchange to wipe the device (provided that you have an Exchange account). Those people without Exchange accounts or IT departments have other, simpler options.
Note that all of the apps and services mentioned in this section, as well as other tools (such as Mobile Defense and Where's My Droid?), can help you find your phone via GPS. These apps have drawn attention lately, as their usage has led to the arrest of several thieves and carjackers.