Privacy is becoming increasingly important particularly when it concerns our devices. Our smartphones are a lot more precious to us than wallet and keys and hold a lot of personal information. A four-number passcode is not really enough to prevent someone from getting into our phone and stealing sensitive data, but there are some simple practices to implement which will help keep your phone and information secure.
Be Aware of App Permissions
Each time you install an app, it asks for permissions to gain access to your camera, audio or contacts. Often it makes sense – to use Instagram on your phone, it needs to be connected to your camera. However, some apps might ask to get access to something that is not at all relevant, and this can be a sure sign the app is not secure. Before clicking “accept” give a thought about what data the app will gain through this permission.
Use Strong Passwords
A strong password is something we have mentioned before in our guide on upping your iPhone security, and it applies to all phones and devices. A four or six digit code or pattern is not a strong enough deterrent, and if someone is watching, they can easily mimic it. You don’t want a password so complicated you’ll forget it the next time you try to unlock your phone, but complicated enough that it is hard to copy. Mixing lower and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols will create a secure passcode.
Turn Off Automatic Sync
Smartphone operating systems require you to set up an account, and whether its iOS or Android, you might end up syncing several devices with access to the same account. This is something to avoid, as you don’t want every device connected to your Google account getting all the same data, as it gives hackers more opportunity to steal it. Turn off the auto-sync option for cloud accounts, so you are not sharing sensitive information in several places.
Reduce Your Online Footprint
Many websites and social media platforms require personal data or cookies to use them but giving them so much information can have adverse effects. Be mindful of websites you accept cookies on, particularly when browsing on your phone, and don’t share too much data on social media either. While you may want to share things with family and friends, if your accounts are not private, the things you put online can be seen by anyone.
In addition to securing the data on your phone, such as contacts and photos, it is a good idea to think about the messaging you use. Messaging services can show who you are talking to, when and even why. Some apps can encrypt and decrypt certain messages you send, and popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp is also safe. Though rumours circulate quickly online about ‘backdoors’ in the software, every message you send is safe.
Keep Software Updated
It is always a good idea to keep up to date with the latest software of iOS or Android, as they are the most secure. If there were any loopholes in the last update, these are usually sorted when the new one is available. In addition to the software, make sure you update your apps too, so they are running on the latest and most secure version.
Install Antivirus Software
One of the biggest threats to your data is through browsing, and antivirus software will prevent any viruses from getting onto your phone and hacking secure information. Apple has strict control over the App store, and viruses are less like to occur on Apple products. For other devices, installing AVG or McAfee provides added security when browsing potentially harmful sites. In addition to antivirus, you may want to download a VPN (a virtual private network) what will direct your internet traffic through an encrypted server.
Do you do any of these practices to keep your phone and data secure? We also recommend getting your phone an anti-glare screen protector or privacy screen which prevents other people from looking over your shoulder and seeing what you do on your phone. Browse through the screen protectors we have available for a variety of smartphones and other devices.
You might also be interested in some of our other blog posts on phone security: