Smartphones have evolved from being able to just check email and has now allowed us to do so many other things when paired with other devices. Nowadays, we can pay with our smartphones with digital wallet apps are able to store multiple credit cards. Most of our private information (together with other contact information) can be found in the apps on our smartphone through chatlogs, pictures, calendars, and notes.
This is why we rely so much on our smartphones and store so much sensitive data on it to make our lives easier. With all these sensitive data onboard a tiny device, we should pay more attention to keeping it safe and away from anyone unwanted. Here are some precautions to help you.
Recommended Reading: 6 Safety Steps To Making Secure Mobile Transactions
1. Set Lockscreen Security That Self-Destructs
Leaving your phone unattended on a desk for a few minutes could lead to someone accessing it to extract lots of vulnerable information. Which is why enabling lockscreen security is essential to keeping your smartphone away from unwanted users.
This is the easiet way to defend you and your data, and pretty much every smartphone has this feature. Manufacturers know privacy is important to users.
Some thieves would try breaking the lockscreen by trying out passwords but to really keep your data safe from brute force hacking, you could enable a feature that erases all data from your smartphone after a preset number of failed attempts.
On the iPhone, it can be enabled under Settings > General > Passcode Lock > Erase Data.
By default, this kind of feature is not available on the Android, but you can enable a similar effect with a free app like Autowipe .
2. Turn Off Settings When Not In Use
Hackers are able to do all sorts of things that will surprise you. Turning off phone settings like Bluetooth, Location Services, Near Field Communication (NFC), Wi-Fi and even Cellular Data when not in use not only conserves smartphone battery but also gives hackers less access to your device.
Location Services and Bluetooth should not be turned on when not in use as apps can use lots of location data without you knowing it. As Bluetooth is constantly transmitting your devices’ location and presence, it is possible for hackers to use it to gain access and extract any kind of information found on your device.
3. Don’t Download Shady Apps
Apps are probably the only thing that can harm you by stealing your personal data. When downloading an app, make sure that all the details of the app comes from the original ‘company’ or correct developer. Some sneaky apps might even trick people to download a "New and improved HD version" of a legitimate app, so make sure you check a few app details before downloading.
For instance a mobile banking app (or any app that handles financial accounts) should come from the bank itself as seen here on the iOS App Store, and not some other seller or developer.
App ratings and comments can also tell a story. If it’s a popular bank or financial service (PayPal) app that has no rating or comments, chances are it might be fake and you should be careful about downloading it and logging in. So be sure to download apps only if it has been rated many times and has multiple comments.
4. Be Wary Of Fishy Apps and Links
Viruses on mobile platforms can be present in many ways. It can be in the form of a ‘dirty’ app that runs in the background transmitting user data. As the Android system allows third-party apps or programs to be installed (very easily), Android users may open their mobile system up to attacks if they are not wary of the apps they download to their phone.
There are however anti-virus scanning apps and other tools on Android that can detect and remove anything that can harm your privacy.
iOS users do not have anti-virus scanning apps, basically because there isn’t a pressing need for it. Apple is very strict with what gets on the App Store and will take down apps that harm its users in any way. Skip clicking on links in SMS, MMS, or even email attachments from unknown or unauthorised senders. Avoiding anything fishy altogether is very simple and should be practiced.
5. Do Not Lose Your Smartphone!
Not losing your smartphone is sometimes easier said than done. Of course no one wants to lose their smartphone, but unfortunate circustances might happen. You might have left it in a bar, in public transport, someone pickpocketed you during your vacation or you might have grabbed someone else’s phone by mistake. In all accounts, chances are your phone is good as gone.
If these things have a tendency to plague your life (some of us are serial phone-losers), installing apps that can locate your smartphone on your iOS or Android device is essential. These apps can help you locate your phone and some have the option to wipeout the data on the phone so you don’t become a victim of identity theft.
To be fair, there is no one mobile platform that is safer than another. With so many devices but only a handful of platforms to choose from, attackers are able to target any platform they desire and the repercussions can be quite devastating to power users. We, as users have to be cautious with what we do to and with our smartphones.
If you work extensively on with your smartphone, you might want to look to BlackBerry phones as they have encryption features in their devices. Finally, because Android is an open source platform, it is more vulnerable to attacks as hackers can easily find vulnerabilities on each device; iOS or Windows Phone are less vulnerable because their system codes are not openly shared to the public.