Many of us are relying on our smartphones for a variety of uses every day. Our phones store emails, contact information, photos and other personal information. They give us quick entry to the internet and provide us with easy access to our banking, investment accounts, social media sites and shopping.
Yes, this makes many of life’s daily task easier than ever, but all these activities on our phone increase our chances of putting our digital identity at risk of theft and fraud. We are basically carrying around a miniature computer with its own storage.
To protect ourselves we must learn the basics of mobile device security and increase our awareness of how to protect our personal information. Below are some simple things to help safeguard our personal information and secure our smartphones.
Activate smartphone’s lock screen. If your phone is locked and left unattended, it will help prevent thieves from accessing information, but it won’t stop them from removing your SIM card and using it on another phone.
Set up a SIM card lock. This pin will need to be entered when a phone is turned on before it can connect to a network. Providing another layer of security.
Use encryption Software. Most smartphone platforms offer software that can encrypt files, folders, emails, messages, passwords, etc. Much of this software is free to download and essential to have installed.
Consider storing data on secure online servers. Instead of saving data on the phone put sensitive information it in a secure cloud-based platform. Leaving no physical evidence on your phone should it be stolen or lost.
Turn off automatic Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. It will prevent the phone from connecting and transmitting data to an unknown network without your knowledge.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi or Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Public internet is not secure and not worth the risk of exposing sensitive data. However, using a VPN allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the internet. It shields browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi.
Don’t use public charging stations. Never plug an unknown USB connector to your phone. This charging cable may be a two-way street for data. Use your own charging cable or a rechargeable external battery pack to charge the phone.
Be Cautious Downloading Apps. Use only “official” channels to download applications. Malware can steal data directly from your phone, making it imperative that your apps come from a reputable source
Update Smartphone Software. Keeping the phone’s operating system and apps up-to-date helps fix vulnerabilities and flaws in the software making them safer.
Back up Phone Data. Should the phone be lost, stolen or damaged, the backup will come in handy. It will restore all the lost phones programs, apps, contacts, etc. to the new phone.
Check Privacy Settings. When you download an app, many ask for your location, access to other apps, your photos, etc. Don’t allow apps any more information than necessary, deny access to all request not needed. Also, be sure and recheck after a phone update.
If we want to continue utilizing our phone for its convenience and productivity which it offers, we can, we only need to be smart and implement the above measures in our daily security practices. Remember, internet thieves would like easy targets. Don’t be one! Cybercrime isn’t going away, but by staying one step ahead of these modern threats, we can help fight crime.
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