10 Ways to stay safe with your smartphone

January 31, 2017

Your mobile phone is always on and is connected to your most personal information. Here are some ways you can protect yourself, your data, and your phone.

  1. Lock your phone with a password or fingerprint detection. This is probably the most important step and one that is widely practised because of the ease of setting it up. At the very least, if you leave your phone in an auto or if it’s stolen out of your pocket, cybercriminals will have to get through that first gate. Set the time on your password lock to be short as well—30 seconds or less should cut it.
  2. If it’s not already the default on your phone, consider encrypting your data. Doing so is especially useful for protecting sensitive data, whether that’s business emails or investing and banking apps.
  3. Set up remote wipe. If your phone is lost or stolen, you’ll be able to wipe all of its data remotely (and therefore keep it out of the hands of criminals). You can often also use remote wipe to find your phone’s location. Android has a built-in applicationf or this called Android Device Manager. Android Device Manager makes it easy to locate, ring, or wipe your device from the web.
  4. Back up phone data. Consider connecting your device to its associated cloud service in order to automatically back up data (and encrypt it). However, if you don’t trust the cloud, be sure you connect to your laptop to sync data regularly in order to preserve photos, videos, apps, and other files.
  5. Be conservative with downloading third-party apps. With the proliferation of apps, it pays to be very cautious while downloading third party apps. Be hyper-aware of the popularity of the app, its reviews, the permission it is asking
  6. Tweak permissions of apps. New version of Android allow users to revoke or not allow permissions of apps, so the permissions are asked for only when the app needs it. For third-party apps, this is the recommended policy.
  7. Avoid jailbreaking your iPhone or rooting your Android. While the processes are different, the end result is bypassing what phone manufacturers intended (including security protocols) and ultimately weakening the security of your device.
  8. Update operating systems often. When that pop-up reminder comes up, don’t ignore it. Charge your phone, clear out some space, and install the update right away.
  9. Be wary of social engineering scams. Cybercriminals love to spoof banking apps, send phony texts meant to collect personal data, and email malicious links and attachments. Just as you do on your computer, view any communications from unknown sources with a careful eye. If it seems fishy, it very likely is.
  10. Use public wifi carefully. Yes, you don’t want to use up all your data. However, public wifi is inherently insecure, so try not to make transactions or transmit sensitive data while using it. Consider using a VPN service to encrypt data transmitted online.