Mobile phones have become more than just electronic devices used for texting or calling. Over time, they have evolved into a powerful tool that can be used to accomplish multiple tasks from processing credit card payments to closing a business deal.
Hence, it’s almost impossible not to divulge confidential or sensitive information when using a cell phone. With the many apps that you need to download or various sites you visit, one way or another, your data gets exposed to third-party vendors. There may be various laws and regulations mandating and governing data security, it’s still best to take precautionary actions on your end. After all, it’s your personal data that’s at stake.
We have listed below 10 quick and easy steps ensuring your cell phone security and all the sensitive information it stores.
1. Enable Passcode
The passcode is a basic but effective layer of defense. Physical hacking is a common method of a data breach, and passcodes can delay or prevent the process giving you more time to remotely wipe your data.
Set a 6-digit PIN (as this offers a higher level of protection than a 4-digit). Other phone login protection methods you could use include fingerprint scanning, face recognition, or dot pattern. It’s also highly recommended to enable the auto-lock screen feature and choosing the shortest time possible. Depending on the phone you have, you may be able to set extra security layers to specific apps such as enabling two-factor authentication.
2. Activate Your Phone Tracker
Mobile devices, regardless if it’s iOS or Android, have built-in trackers which greatly help in locating your lost or stolen device, as well as managing or wiping your data. These are software programs specifically created to help a user remotely access and delete the phone’s hard drive to avoid any sensitive information being leaked or breached. So, be sure to utilize the “Find My Device” or “Find My iPhone” apps. However, these apps will only work if they are set up prior to your phone being misplaced.
3. Update Your Phone’s Operating System
Your device’s operating system (OS) needs to be always up-to-date. Ensure that you constantly install any new software upgrades as these are meant to patch any detected vulnerabilities or enhance existing programs. These updates are essential in mobile security bug fixes, so be sure to immediately install the newer version as soon as it’s released.
It’s highly recommended that you enable notifications or allow auto-download or auto-install so you don’t overlook or miss out on any OS updates.
4. Access Only Trusted Sites
Be extremely cautious when you access sites and download apps on your phone. Additionally, be skeptical when clicking links or accessing documents from untrusted or unknown sources. Phishing, malware hacking, and spyware are common methods used to illegally acquire and use sensitive or personal data. Through these links or pages, fraudsters can also remotely access your mobile device.
Furthermore, be meticulously selective to which parties you disclose your information to. It’s certainly unavoidable, especially that most apps or sites require your details for full access. Be sure to create strong passwords or enable 2 or 3 levels of authentication on accounts or platforms which you divulge confidential details to.
5. Grant Permission With Caution
It’s not uncommon for apps to request to have access to certain features or sections of your device. These accesses are usually needed for the application to run properly as programmed. While there are several laws governing such permissions, some apps abuse these, causing security threats to your mobile device.
6. Dismiss Auto Login
While social media accounts and various apps offer auto-login features, we discourage turning these on. We understand that the convenience this feature offers is appealing, but you are more likely to expose your data by leaving apps logged in on your mobile device. Bypassing your phone’s passcode is something any beginner hacker can do nowadays, and if your gadget happens to fall in their hands, it’s like serving them your data on a silver platter.
If unavoidable, we recommend enabling 2-factor authentication or a separate confirmation method for a specific app, such as online banking, to fully function.
7. Delete Unused Apps
Just like your device, every app needs to be constantly updated to ensure its safety and security. When you simply store apps that you don’t frequently or no longer use, it’s common to not pay much attention to whether they are up-to-date or not. Leaving it not updated can compromise the app’s security, exposing your device to online criminals.
Hence, it’s best to uninstall unused apps to get rid of possible security loopholes. Otherwise, turn on the auto-update or automatic download feature so you do not miss out on any new version of your apps.
8. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
When using public Wi-Fi, you don’t know for sure who else is accessing it. Sharing a network exposes your personal information to everyone on that same connection. And you don’t know if the network itself has the proper security measures in place or if it’s been compromised by a hacker.
Aside from using public Wi-Fi networks, avoid using public charging ports as well. Cybercriminals are also infecting or compromising lines on charging ports, waiting for people to connect to those and enable them access to the devices.
If completely unavoidable, there are ways to protect your device from the threats of public Wi-Fi. To name a few, use virtual private networks (VPNs), avoid processing critical transactions, refrain entering confidential information, and never click any shared documents or files from unknown sources.
9. Install Antivirus Software
Most hackers utilize malware, such as viruses, to penetrate the network or system they wish to steal information from. One quick and easy way to counteract this is to install a trustworthy antivirus software program. Since iPhones have built-in data security programs, antivirus software is more applicable and highly recommended for Android phones. You can get one from the Google Play Store, or download one online from a reputable seller.
Aside from installing an antivirus program, we highly advise you to avoid changing critical features on your devices. For instance, when you jailbreak or root your mobile phone, you bypass various built-in security features of the device, making it more exposed and less secure.
10. Download Mobile Monitoring Apps
Other extra protection tools you can rely on are mobile monitoring apps. Through these, you can monitor your own device, instantly detecting any suspicious activities – from unknown text messages to unauthorized transactions. Due to the real-time update feature such apps offer, it’s more likely for you to prevent further damages.
These apps are also great in backing up any data on your phone so that in cases where you need to wipe out or reset to its factory settings, you retain copies of your important files.
It’s undeniable and unstoppable that cell phones are becoming more and more powerful devices, an all-in-one tool. You have to bear in mind though, that its convenience comes with a price. Hence, you need to observe extreme caution when using one. Make cell phone security your personal duty.
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