How To Protect Your Smartphone
With our personal lives increasingly wrapped up in the digital world, it’s hard to imagine life without our smartphones. And while you may worry about your device being stolen, dropped or damaged, there are greater risks you need to safeguard your smartphone from.
Digital security is a growing concern, and with so much of your personal information held on your smartphone, it’s essential you take steps to keep you and your smartphone safe and secure.
We take a look at just some of the best ways to protect your smartphone. Now that is smart.
1. Always Lock Your Device
If you don’t use a screen lock or password on your smartphone, you are inviting phone thieves to come right in. It. And if the ‘door’ to your phone is left wide open, then that’s access to all your personal data. It takes minutes to add in this essential layer of security, yet it’s thought that around 50% of smartphone users simply don’t bother. A pin code, fingerprint, pattern lock and now facial recognition are the main ways to lock your phone. There are also password manager apps, so check those out too. If you opt for a pin code, don’t use an obvious number combination (1,2,3,4 or birth dates for example) and periodically change it to keep it secure. You can also lock your SIM so should a thief be able to remove it, they won’t be able to use it in another phone without the password.
2. Use Two-Factor Authentication
It may seem like a pain, but trust us, two-factor authentication is an extra layer of smartphone security that’s worth the hassle. As the name suggests, it adds a second step to accessing your phone as well as email, Apple ID, Google Profile and other accounts you may hold on your smartphone. The authentication involves two steps each time, one is your password and then a second step such as a security code to verify who you are. Even if you add it to key accounts, we strongly recommend it.
3. Get An Anti-Virus
The capabilities of our smartphones are such that we are now carrying high-functioning mini-computers around with us, wherever we go. And, if a PC can succumb to a virus, then so can your smartphone. Both Android and iPhones are vulnerable to viruses and malware and so need protection, just like your full-sized computer hardware and many antivirus companies such as McAfee offer versions of their mobile products or you can opt for a multi-device protection via a subscription. There are also some free anti-virus apps but do your research as you could find you are downloading a fake anti-virus that can actually infect your device.
4. Update Your OS And Apps
Life’s busy – we get it. And so those regular pop-ups telling us to update our smartphone’s operating system or apps can seem like a nuisance or get in the way. But if you tend to ignore or delay updates then you could be putting your smartphone at risk.
Software manufacturers are constantly trying to keep ahead of the digital security game and will update their software when there’s a gap that needs patching up. Ignoring their update flags will only make your smartphone more vulnerable in the long run. So, if you are prompted to install an update, see it as a positive and not a time sapper on your part. Updates are best done when your smartphone is plugged in and connected to the wi-fi, so get it done at night when you go to sleep. Multi-tasking at its best!
5. Approach Apps Wisely
And while we are on the subject of apps, be vigilant when it comes to downloading new ones on to your smartphone. Hackers and phishers are increasingly looking to gain access to your smart device by masquerading as an app so be security curious when it comes to what your download. Avoid any dodgy apps by only using official stores such as Apple and Google Play rather than those hosted on other sites. Check out reviews too before you press the install button, and if anything weird is flagged, avoid. Also, be savvy when it comes to the permissions you grant a legitimate app – access to your camera, contacts, location etc – so you can sure it’s only the essentials they can have.
6. Be Wary Of Free Wi-Fi
We all love free stuff, and when it comes to bagging that free wi-fi, we connect like there’s no tomorrow. And while free wi-fi in the airport, café or shopping mall is a damn fine thing, it can also present a security risk to the personal data you hold on your smartphone, so it’s very important to stay secure online.
Connecting to wireless networks or hotspots can mean you are opening a gate to more malicious entrants or you may be connecting to a wi-fi hotspot that’s not as legitimate as it seems. If you have strong password security on your smartphone and are wise when it comes to what free wi-fi you use, you should be ok, but just be extra vigilant. And always switch off your wi-fi when it’s not in use and you’re in a public place. Another good tip is to check your gadgets’ security settings as it might be configured to automatically connect to a network that’s in range without you actually knowing.
7. Back Up Your Data
Despite your best smartphone security intentions, the worst can still happen so an essential element of your strategy must be to protect your data. And this can be done by storing your information remotely and back it all up regularly. Cloud storage is the way to go and most smartphones will enable users to sync their info with a computer or cloud website, including emails, contacts, photos, documents and all your other precious digital ‘stuff’.
As a basic guide – for Android, check that ‘back up my data’ and ‘automatic restore’ are enabled in the settings so you can sync your data with Google. And if you have an iPhone, choose your device in the settings so you can then back up to iCloud.
8. Protect Your Smartphone From Afar
OK, so you’ve done everything you can to keep your smartphone safe, but you discover it’s gone AWOL. Now’s the time to really get proactive to stop all your information falling into the wrong hands. But you need to have the right tools already in place. When setting up your security measures, the final job on the list is to ensure you have Find my Phone and ways to remotely wipe your smartphone’s data, all live and ready. This way, as soon as you discover or suspect that your smart device has been lost or stolen you can control it from afar. This means you can lock it remotely or use the GPS to track its location down. And with some antivirus packages, you can even wipe sensitive data to stop it falling into the wrong hands.
And finally….when it is time to upgrade, always wipe your old smartphone clean first before you sell it on. Taking a smartphone back to its factory settings will erase all your personal data from its memory, leaving it as clean as a whistle and your information safe from prying eyes.