Nowadays, cellphones can be vulnerable to hackers due to how they serve as mini personal computers, storing an abundance of personal and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, confidential emails, and more. It is more important now than ever that you know exactly how to secure your smartphone.
#1 – Keep your OS and apps updated
By neglecting to keep your apps and OS up-to-date, you could be easy prey for hackers and intruders as they get to know the system’s vulnerabilities over time. As developers and companies gain knowledge of vulnerabilities, app improvements are made in order to keep them more secure. The longer you wait to update your device, the more unprotected you will be.
#2 – Lock your devices
Although keeping your phone unlocked can make it easier and more comfortable to access quickly, one of the most effective things you can do to secure your smartphone is to keep it well locked using 6 digit, alphanumeric passwords or taking advantage of facial recognition and fingerprint scanning features.
Be sure to password protect all apps containing confidential data, such as your email reader, banking apps, etc. Avoid using the same password for all accounts and remember to update them on a regular basis.
#3 – Use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wisely
Joining any free wi-fi around you can actually leave your device vulnerable to hackers, so make sure to keep an eye on the networks you log into. Try to use your phone’s private connection as much as possible and switch off your wi-fi port, as well as your Bluetooth, when not in use.
Ensure that your home wireless router is password protected and avoid signing into open unencrypted networks. If that’s not possible, then consider using a trustworthy VPN that tunnels your network traffic through an encrypted connection to a server base in another location.
#4 – Manage your app permissions properly
When looking at how to secure your smartphone, remember to check out your app permissions as some of them may be using more privileges than needed and some of them can compromise your privacy and or security. For iPhones, go to Settings > Privacy, there you’ll find a list of all permissions and the apps you’ve granted them to. For Android, you can find the app permissions under the Application Manager > Device > Application.
While many apps will ask to access your camera, contacts, location or microphone, the truth is that not all of them actually need access to these things in order to work.
#5 – Know where your apps come from
Be cautious when downloading apps on your phone by trying to only rely on those which are approved by the App or Play store. iPhone users can fully trust their AppStore, as it comes with high security standards. Although the Google Play Store has improved their vetting process to ensure no app is running malware, the Android platform still allows installation from many less-regulated environments, so it’s better to avoid independent apps that you don’t fully trust and rely on the Play Store instead.
#6 – Look after your internet browsing and beware of spam and phishing
Be careful when browsing the internet on your smartphone because it can be easy to accept any pop-ups that may come up. Also, while agreeing to save logins and passwords can be more convenient, this also makes it easier for someone who gets access to your phone to get ahold of your private information.
Always make sure the url you’re accessing comes with an ‘https’ tag because it means it’s a secure url. If security warnings pop up, pay attention to them and leave the website immediately. You also want to make sure that any banking or shopping sites you enter your data in have a padlock in the address bar that proves the site is encrypted.
When it comes to spam and phishing scams, avoid them completely by not clicking on the links in promotional emails, not opening suspicious attachments or running any updates prompted through email.
#7 – Consider using a Sim Card Lock
Anyone can remove the SIM card from your phone and use it in another device. To prevent this from happening there’s the option to set up a SIM card lock in the form of a PIN number that would be necessary to use when a phone is turned on in order to connect to a network.
#8 – Use an antivirus
Antiviruses are not just for your computer, they can also be a good way to secure your smartphone. Many of the desktop apps that you know and use have a smartphone version, such as Avast, McAfee and Panda. They add extra security to your phone by making sure no images, files or apps you download are infected with malware.
#9 – Back up your data and protect it with encryption
While you can go through all of these tips on how to secure your smartphone, it’s just as important to prevent any breaches from happening. Keep your data backed up and encrypted, because a smartphone can be easily accessed through the removal of a microSD card or plugging it into a computer.
iPhone data can be stored in iCloud and Android users can rely on Dropbox and OneDrive. However, it’s safest to take an extra step by encrypting your files and folders so that a code must be entered before anything can be viewed or copied. A quick online search will direct you to software capable of doing this with a free download, so shop around to find something trustworthy that adjusts to your needs.
#10 – Remote wipe
In the worst case scenario, where your phone gets stolen, having a remote-wipe application can keep your data secured by promptly and remotely deleting it. Antivirus packages can offer local wipe facilities and many operating systems also have a range of third-party applications that you can choose from.
As a bottom line, there are many ways in which you can secure your smartphone and make sure no one else has access to all of the data contained in it. As you use your devices more and more, great amounts of sensitive data are stored in them which makes you an easy target for hackers. Avoid putting yourself in danger of identity theft, digital fraud and other liabilities by paying attention and following these easy steps.