If you’ve got one, you know you can’t live without it: A smartphone or tablet. It’s your link to the outside world and your work no matter where you are – home, on the road, at work, at the coffeeshop. We use our mobile devices for everything, too, from social media and texting to banking, shopping, and work applications.
That means mobile devices are just as attractive to hackers and identity thieves as your computer, maybe even more so because the information on your device is likely to be more up to date than the information on your computer. But according to Consumer Reports, not many of us are taking simple security measures. (See infographic at the end of this article for more.)
Here are a few easy things you can do to protect your device – and your data – from those who wish you harm.
Passwords, Passwords, Passwords
All mobile devices allow you to set a pin of at least four digits to unlock your phone. Do it – right now, if you haven’t already. This simple step can stop a thief in his tracks. The simple act of requiring a pin to unlock a device is the first, and perhaps the best, action you can take to protect your device. Make the password hard to figure out – don’t use your birth date, anniversary, social security number, four numbers in sequence, etc. – and don’t share it.
Most devices also have an option to wipe the data from the device if an incorrect password is entered too many times – usually 10. Enable this option as well.
When you’re not using your device, lock it.
Be Smart in Public
Public wifi connections are a convenient way to get online and save the precious cellular data you’re paying for each month. As we’ve discussed before, it’s important to be smart when you’re using public wifi networks. Only connect to known networks, and if you’re unsure, ask the staff where you are what the name and password for their network is.
While you’re connected, don’t send any personal or private business data over the network. These networks are wide open, and anyone could see your sensitive data. That means no banking, no shopping, no work that involves sensitive or proprietary data. If you must do these things while you’re out and about, use the cellular network. Most cell service providers encrypt your data as it passes between your device and the cell tower.
And, when you’re not using the public network, disconnect from it.
Be Cautious with Email and Text
Passwords, bank information, client data, and other sensitive information should never be sent through a text message. This is not a secure way to send information to someone else.
Spam can be sent to your phone through email or text messages. As we’ve discussed in the past, never click a link in an email if you don’t recognize the sender or if it seems suspicious or too good to be true. The same rules apply to text messages – if it looks like spam, it probably is.
Use the App Store
Downloading suspicious apps is one way to get viruses and Trojan horses on your mobile device – the same malware that can infect your computer. Only download from a trusted app store – like Google Play, Amazon, or iTunes – and look for apps with high ratings and known developers. Read user reviews, and if you’re not sure an app is legitimate, don’t download it.
Install Security and Stay Current
You can install antivirus and malware apps to your phone and tablet the same way you can install security software for your computer. Find them in your favorite app store. Keep this software up to date, just as you do on your computer.
And, keep your phone and its software up to date. Install operating system updates and patches when they’re released, and make a habit of backing up your phone or tablet to your computer or the cloud. If your phone is stolen or compromised, you could lose all of your data, including pictures and video. Backing them up periodically reduces the number of files you’ll lose.
Smartphones and tablets are popular targets for theft. When you’re out and about, be smart. Don’t leave it on the table at the coffeeshop and walk away. If you’re in a busy area, keep two hands on your device, and know when the situation calls for you to put it away. If your attention is diverted, your device is more likely to get stolen. Put it away when you need to focus on something else.
And, protect your phone and tablet by activating the “find my phone” and remote data wipe apps. If your phone is stolen, these apps allow you to see where the phone is and to remotely delete the data on it.
Let us help you with your mobile security questions. Contact us today!
How Well Do You Protect Your Smartphone?
Check out this fascinating survey from Consumer Reports: