6 Steps to Smartphone Security
Internet usage has increased steadily every year since it was invented. Today, more than 313 million Americans are active online, and each are spending an average of 6 hours and 42 minutes a day shopping, tweeting, emailing, researching, attending meetings and more. While most people have some awareness about cybercrime and the need for computer security, few have applied this thinking to their mobile devices.
Mobile devices are now almost as powerful and functional as computers. And since they’re often handier than a computer, much of the growth in internet usage over the past few years is attributed to mobile users. Naturally, mobile cybersecurity threats have also grown. It’s a good idea to start protecting your mobile device to the same degree that you protect your computer – or even more so. Here are 6 security tips to help protect the data and security of your smartphone.
- Create a complex and secure passcode. One of the most common ways data is stolen from smartphones is physical theft. Setting a password to access your phone that is hard to guess can often protect it against data theft. Make sure that you do not use a “pattern” password (i.e., picking numbers in a row, L-shape, or the like), and instead opt for a login that includes a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Only install apps from trusted sources. Before downloading an app, research to ensure it is legitimate. Check its reviews, confirm its legitimacy on the app store and compare the app sponsor’s official website with the app store link to verify that the two are connected. Many apps from untrusted sources contain malware that once installed can steal information, install viruses and cause harm to your phone’s contents. Once the app is installed, and it asks for permissions, consider whether the functions of the app align with what it’s asking for. For example, a flashlight app definitely doesn’t need access to your contacts. If it says it does, it may be using those permissions to send malicious emails or texts to everyone on your contact list.
- Back up and secure your data regularly. A virus can swiftly steal or erase your data. Ransomware can hold that hostage in exchange for a sum (usually large) of money. Backing up your data is a good way to ensure you’ll still have access to all of your data if your device gets lost, stolen, infected, or otherwise compromised.
- Keep software updated. Hackers and thieves are always trying new ways to gain entry, and companies are always attempting to thwart them. The battle is happening in the unseen coding and updates are a company’s way of fighting that battle. So, make sure that you run the newest versions of your phone’s operating system (OS) and your downloaded apps. The system will alert you when there is a new update available, so be prudent and install it promptly.
- Be smart with open Wi-Fi networks. Hackers are often waiting on public Wi-Fi networks for an unsuspecting target to come along. Through that network connection they can record all of your activities, possibly viewing your bank and credit card information, social media logins, email logins, and personal correspondence. Make sure that the open network you are connected to is legitimate. As a backup mechanism, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app while browsing to ensure that no one is intercepting your internet traffic. A VPN app will route your traffic through another network to shield you from those prying eyes.
- Prepare for the worst-case scenario. One of the unfortunate truths about cybersecurity is that there is no possible way for something to be 100% secure. The tips we’ve provided will help bolster your security. Hackers are sneaky, creative and determined. To help protect yourself, sign up for a comprehensive identity protection provider like Complete ID that monitors your personal information, alerts you if something is amiss and offers important guidance if you become a victim.
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