As paper receipts and mailing bill payments through the postal service become less and less common, there will continue to be an increasing number of wily individuals bent on getting your personal financial information electronically - for unscrupulous purposes, of course. While it shouldn't discourage the tech-savvy consumer from trying new and innovative ways of managing their money, it must be a motivator in seeking out solutions for keeping your confidential details under wraps. These smart phone and tablet apps aren't just intriguing; they may be vital in the war against high-tech theft. (Find out how to spot internet fraud and protect your hard-earned money. Check out Avoiding Online Investment Scams.)

TUTORIAL: Mortgage Basics

1. Data Protection
Most of us transmit some form of sensitive data through our phones every day. Whether it be passwords to shopping sites like Amazon or PDF versions of online bank statements, once it gets into the wrong hands, it can be catastrophic to your financial security. Just like the security software that runs in the background on your PC or Mac, a data protection app can prevent the worst from happening (specifically malware, spyware and apps that share your private info with other parties.) Look for a mobile version of your existing software to get you started in protecting yourself on the road.

While antivirus software for the iPhone is harder to find, companies like Malwarebytes has a lite version for iPhone users. Norton has a mobile security app in BETA for Android users who already use their products. Look for companies like Norton and others to expand their offerings in the coming months.

2. Anti-Theft Solutions
The stories of stolen iPads and Blackberries are all too common. Unfortunately, many of the victims didn't know how to mitigate damages caused by theft until after they were targeted. Today's market is flooded with options for consumers who want remote access to their gadgets. The simple ones allow owners to locate their unit via GPS, lock it against unauthorized use or even wipe it clean of all information that could be used in malicious way. More advanced apps can let the owner send a message to the main screen of the unit, along with sounding an alarm - something that could come in handy if the gadgets was merely misplaced. Check your gadget's startup guide or installation files for a service recommended by the manufacturer.

iPhone 4, iPad and 4th generation iPod Touch users can access the Find my iPhone app free to enable GPS-based lockout or location services. Where's My Droid is an Android compatible version that is highly-ranked and costs just a buck to download.

3. Parental Controls
It may be hard to see the need for a nanny feature on your smart phone, especially from a fiscal perspective. If you're ever experienced the painful bill that comes with dozens of unauthorized game or MP3 downloads, however, it's obvious to see how this feature fits. Families who share phones or adults who get saddled with their teen's cell bill would be wise to check out some of the more effective security applications designed to squash secretive spending. Most phones do have built-in password features, but they may not be as effective as a stand-alone option. Several options are available for proactive parents, although they may not be labeled as parent-specific tools.

Most Apple product owners will find that the built-in parental controls of their product should suffice. If they want extra security in their browsing, however, Safe Eyes has an app for the iPhone and iPad for around $20. Droid users can get basic blocking power for under $2 with the Smart Lock 2.0 app.

4. Firewall
You wouldn't use a computer without firewall protection, so why would you assume that a smartphone is safe from similar dangers? Many firewall apps can help against hackers and hijackers that may use your smartphone to do their dirty work. This is especially useful for anyone who regularly uses a public or open wireless network to connect to their favorite apps or mobile sites. Be certain that you download this kind of app from a trusted company or site that you've done business with before. (Will you be next? See Credit Scams To Watch Out For.)

For a free version of android firewall protection with over 2,000 user reviews, try Droid Wall.

5. Basic Backup
Making a second copy of all of your smart phone's data is not only tedious, but it can also get pricey. If you're looking for a simple backup solution for the most important files (calendar and contacts, for example), most of the up-and-coming backup apps will have you covered. Look for a company that allows a reasonable amount of online (cloud) storage for free or a very minimal fee. If you're unsure as to whether a service will be truly user-friendly, test drive a few before you commit to the lengthy one-year contracts that are the standard for companies who offer data storage features.

Cloud services that are seamlessly integrated into an app are coming soon! For example, Apple's solution for the iPhone, iCloud, should be here this fall.

6. Security Camera
While a bit controversial, and not as reliable as the methods discussed earlier, a big brother camera app can be a final bit of security against the dark side of technology. These apps utilize a front-facing camera feature in a phone or tablet and snap pictures of a user to help identify a suspect. They have been credited with apprehending thieves, but they should not be trusted for complete protection against robbers. The best security is to keep your gadgets safely stored, locked, and accounted for.

The Security Camera 2.0 app for Mac costs just $4.99 and can be used on any Mac with an operating system of 10.6 or later. The popular Big Brother Security, which was the most notable app of this kind for iPhone, has been taken off the market as of June 14, 2011.

The Bottom Line
What can we expect from the future of security applications? As gadgets change, so will the need for cutting edge solutions that cover all the bases. Luckily, some companies are setting the trend for offering a complete suite of security features. Lookout and BullGuard are two such brands that give users data protection, backups and missing/stolen device management all in one product. Check for compatibility with your make/model. Users who don't want to install or pay for multiple protections just may find a comprehensive solution to be more time and cost-effective. (For additional reading, see Stop Scams In Their Tracks.)

Related Articles
  1. Entrepreneurship

    How an Internet Sales Tax Will Affect Your Small Business

    Learn about how the Marketplace Fairness Act may impact small business owners should it pass in the House and what the act requires from business owners.
  2. Savings

    Craft Beer Clubs – Bargain or Not?

    If you're an aficionado of artisanal brews (or would like to be), a beer club can be a palate-pleasing, albeit pricey, way to expand your hops horizon.
  3. Stock Analysis

    When Will Dick's Sporting Goods Bounce Back? (DKS)

    Is DKS a bargain here?
  4. Stock Analysis

    Has Urban Outfitters Lost its Way? (URBN)

    Urban Outfitters just made a bold move. Will it pay off?
  5. Stock Analysis

    Is Walmart's Rally Sustainable? (WMT)

    Walmart is enjoying a short-term rally. Is it sustainable? Is Amazon still a better bet?
  6. Savings

    Are Wine Clubs Worth It?

    Some points to consider, before committing to a membership for yourself – or as a gift. The right club can also help you save money over the holidays.
  7. Stock Analysis

    Kohl's: Should You Stock Up or Sell? (KSS)

    Many traders are bearish on Kohl's, but long-term investors might want to take a closer look for this simple reason.
  8. Stock Analysis

    GoPro's Stock: Can it Fall Much Further? (GPRO)

    As a company that primarily sells discretionary products, GoPro and its potential falls right in line with consumer trends. Is that good or bad?
  9. Stock Analysis

    How Macy's Will Refresh its Brand

    Macy's is heading in the wrong direction, but what's the potential for a turnaround?
  10. Stock Analysis

    Nordstrom: Is it a Buy or Should You Avoid Now?

    Consumer trends are going to change over the next year or so. How will this impact Nordstrom? Will it adjust in time?
  1. Where can you buy NetSpend reload packs?

    You can only purchase NetSpend reload packs at Giant Eagle, Albertsons, Roundy's and Pathmark supermarkets. NetSpend cards ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What does marginal utility tell us about consumer choice?

    In microeconomics, utility represents a way to relate the amount of goods consumed to the amount of happiness or satisfaction ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some common ways product differentiation is achieved?

    There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What role does the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) play in the finished product?

    Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) do not typically play much of direct role in determining the finished product. However, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and a VAR ...

    An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is a company that manufactures a basic product or a component product, such as a ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  2. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  3. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  4. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
  5. Indemnity

    Indemnity is compensation for damages or loss. Indemnity in the legal sense may also refer to an exemption from liability ...
  6. Discount Bond

    A bond that is issued for less than its par (or face) value, or a bond currently trading for less than its par value in the ...
Trading Center