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7 Strategies to Keep Your Phone Safe from Hackers
In the span of a day, you probably do most of the following with your phone:
- Go through your inbox and respond to emails (and unsubscribe from the annoying ones)
- Check your bank account balance, breathe a sigh of relief, and purchase an item with your credit card
- Send a text message to a friend, or two, or ten, or twenty—group texts are the best!
- Play a game, get frustrated, and proceed to purchase an item within the game to move you along faster
- Download a new application
- Take a picture and send it to a family member or friend
- Visit your work’s online database to check on that one project
- Post to 2, 3, or 4 social media platforms 4, 5, or 6 times… each
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In one day, you perform a variety of tasks with your phone. It’s your lifeline, your baby, your prized possession. Without it, you would be lost and feel completely naked.
As a result, your phone touches many different parts of your life all day, every day: your finances, your family, your daily habits, your work, your communication. We’re sure you probably see where we’re headed with this.
If you fail to protect your phone, whatever or whomever you fall prey to can easily rip through your entire life. Within minutes, your credit, reputation, and life can be destroyed. That’s why you should always and completely understand how to protect your phone from external threats.
Here are seven easy strategies to help you protect your beloved smartphone and all the precious data held within that piece of metal and glass:
This goes for your phone and all your accounts as well. First and foremost, your phone should be locked. Whether you use a pattern, pin code, word, or fingerprint scan, it doesn’t matter… just use something. This is your first line of defense. If someone has your phone and can’t get past your unlock code, you’re much better off. You’d rather the bad guy sell your phone for parts than have access to your banking information and your mother’s cell phone number, right?
However, if someone does have your phone and they do get past your unlock code (or you don’t have one at all… shame!), make sure all your online accounts have extremely strong passwords (Hors*ESR-soo_123purteEE$!?) and all your confidential apps (banking, email, work) are secured with a lock code, as well.
Delete any files, pictures and text messages off your phone that you no longer need. Why let them hang around if you no longer need them? It also helps save space for new data. If someone gains access to your phone (remotely or physically), they could stumble upon something you could have easily prevented them from seeing.
This also goes hand in hand with applications you no longer use. Delete your account and all your information tied into the app, then uninstall the application. For example, if you downloaded an app like Mint to manage your finances and you no longer use it, disconnect your banking account, delete your account and then uninstall it from for your phone. The steps are important.
If you don’t want it out in the public, then don’t upload it, send it, or have any part in it. This is common sense but, unfortunately, it’s far too common of an occurrence that it really doesn’t make any sense at all. Don’t send an email or text on your phone that you wouldn’t want your family to see. Don’t send a picture that you wouldn’t want your coworkers to see. Just don’t do it. We know the pull is there, but you can withstand it. We promise.
Believe it or not, Apple and Google aren’t always on top of everything. Shocker, right? In fact, they’ve both had a nasty string of malware sweep through their app stores—millions of downloads, millions of infections. To avoid this, check ratings, comments, number of downloads, star ratings, and reviews from customers before downloading anything. And always check and verify the app developer.
To ensure maximum security and guarantee there are no loopholes for threats to slip through, always check your phone for updates. This method will differ from brand to brand, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to maneuver through. For instance, on Android, you would find available updates if you go to Settings, About Phone, Software Update and then Software Update Check. It’s as simple as that.
If you ever lose your phone (or it gets taken), notify your carrier as soon as possible. They’ll do what they have to do to shut down your phone. You can also set it up so that you have the power to track down your phone and remote lock or reset it. On Android, this can be done from Android Device Manager online. With Apple, this can be done through iCloud.com. Once you’ve contacted your carrier, immediately reset any passwords that you can—your email, bank accounts and social media outlets being the recommended first ones to change.
Jumping onto public Wi-Fi is convenient but, unfortunately, hackers have the ability to create illegitimate Wi-Fi hotspots pretty easily. Once you connect, you give them direct access to your phone and all its data. A few good tips to remember: disable automatic connection, never let a connection remember you, and try to stick with connections that require a login.