The smartphone is perhaps the most impactful tech gadget ever created. It transformed how we consume information, interact with others, and pay for things in a way people as little back as a decade ago would have considered science fiction.
For all their awesome capabilities, smartphones can also be a serious security risk. Improper use and handling may expose your personal information, cause financial harm, or even affect your reputation. Here are the key steps to follow to keep your phone secure.
Lock Your Screen Behind Biometrics & a PIN
Some people happily trade convenience for security, even if it only saves them a few seconds. Locking the screen behind your fingerprint ID and a PIN is the first thing you should do. It might only slow down a determined hacker, but locking your screen will keep others from snooping around your phone.
Keep Everything Updated
Another tip that involves minimum effort is that operating system and app updates should be on by default. Double-check to be on the safe side, and always accept update prompts. This ensures you have access to the latest features, while cyber crooks can’t use known exploits to hack your phone anymore.
Don’t Trust Public Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi is all around us, and it’s as dangerous as it is convenient. Public hotspots lack the protections you get from home and cellular internet. Worse yet, anyone can tap into or even impersonate such hotspots. They may then see whatever you’re doing, including which logins, credit card numbers, and other sensitive info you type in.
Installing a VPN is the best way to remain protected, even if public Wi-Fi is your only option. VPNs shield your connection with a tunnel, and some providers also reinforce this secure connection by detecting vulnerabilities. They encrypt your communications, so bad actors can’t access or use any information or files you exchange. A VPN routes the connection through a remote server, so your activity remains anonymous too.
Embrace Multi-factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication is another measure that sounds like an extra annoyance but helps level up your smartphone’s security. Hard-to-guess passwords are a good start, but they’re not 100% secure, either. Using MFA prompts you to enter another code or use biometrics besides a password to get account access. This prevents hackers who might have gotten their hands on a password during a data breach from compromising your account and data.
Use Apps Only from Trusted Sources
You might have heard of ways to bypass some restrictions or get out of paying for ads in certain apps. That usually involves visiting sketchy sites and downloading weird app versions you won’t find in sanctioned stores. Save yourself from future headaches and only go for verified and vetted content.
Even then, there’s a chance for duds. Remember how we said you should use a VPN? You’ll find tons of free ones on the app stores, all promising security and anonymity without any drawbacks. The catch? Some won’t protect you at all, while others may even collect and sell your usage data to third parties.
That’s why it’s important to do your research and only choose trustworthy providers for such impactful services. If you are curious about which VPN provider fits your needs the best, there are helpful resources online, like Reddit’s VPN comparison table.
Back-Up the Important Stuff
Part of a good smartphone security strategy is making sure you don’t lose access to data if you lose the device. It happens shockingly often – more than 50% of Brits say they’ve misplaced at least one phone.
You’ll want to use a backup solution if you don’t want all your precious contacts, photos, and other files to disappear, too. Syncing with a cloud storage solution is the most hassle-free option. You should also consider copying your most important files to a physical drive for safekeeping.
Keeping your smartphone safe isn’t hard! Coupled with our tips, a healthy dose of caution when going online is everything you need to keep threats at bay and your smartphone in top working condition.