5 easy ways to protect your smartphone
Take better care of your smartphone in 2017. Here we offer a few simple tips to doing so.
As they say on Twitter, ICYMI – “in case you missed it” – mobile malware (malicious software) is on the rise.
“Since 2012, the number of threat detections in the mobile world continues to grow, and we anticipate this trend will continue next year,” predicts ESET, a global leader in security solutions for consumers and businesses, in a recently published 61-page report entitled Trends 2017: Security Held Ransom.
In fact, ESET says the number of signatures to detect malware on Android seen during 2016 was 21% higher than the views during 2015, while the number of signatures on iOS grew by 31% during the same period.
Regardless of which smartphone you use, it’s critical to prevent your personal (and professional) information from falling into the wrong hands. Even if your device isn’t lost or stolen, your data could still be accessible by a remote thief if not properly protected.
These tips should help better secure your smartphone:
Use a passcode. All smartphones let you lock it with a PIN code, password, pattern or biometrics login (such as your fingertip) to confirm it’s really you. As long as you lock your device in some fashion, no one else can access your information should your device be lost or stolen. A finger or thumbprint scan is most convenient if your device offers it.
Be app-savvy. Only download apps from trusted, reputable sources. Always stick with official stores like App Store or Google Play, read comments from previous users before you download to confirm it’s a legit application (never be the first to download something new). Read the app permissions instead of blindly accepting the terms and conditions. Is there a reason a game wants access to your camera, microphone and contacts?
Don’t be gullible. Immediately delete suspicious text messages from people you don't know, don't click on any embedded web links or call any unknown phone numbers. Scammers and spammers are increasingly targeting smartphone users, be it through text messages, emails or even phone calls pretending to be who they’re not. This could lead to them locking your device and extorting money from you to unlock it (“ransomware”).
Set up remote wipe. Should your phone become lost or stolen, you can remotely lock it (if no passcode is on it already), display a message (“Please call me for a reward”), wipe the data clean, or track it on an online map – but you need to set this up ahead of time. Free services include Find My iPhone (iOS) and Android Device Manager (Android). Always work with authorities to retrieve a stolen phone rather than attempting it on your own.
Consider antivirus. Especially for Android users, it’s recommended to protect your mobile data with security software. Not only do these apps protect your device from viruses and other malware, but premium services also lock down your privacy settings, scan apps and files for threats, and some solutions can snap a photo of someone attempting to log into your stolen phone, via the front-facing camera, and send the image to you.
A few other tips. Always backup your phone's info (in case it becomes lost, stolen, or damaged) via a computer, the cloud, or (if offered), a removable memory card. Be cautious when using a free Wi-Fi hotspot as it could be a fake (“rogue”) network set up to steal your data. Finally, opt for two-step authentication with apps like Gmail, Facebook, OneDrive and so on, as it’ll require both a password and separate code to gain entry.
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