Top Mobile Phone Security Tips
Nearly all of us have a mobile phone these days, that’s no big deal. But what is a big deal is the vast amount of personal information we keep on our devices. Just think about it, you’ve got contact info, pictures, and depending on how you use your phone you might also have banking information, passwords and who knows what else stored on there. But what happens to all that info in the event that your phone gets stolen or lost? Chances are it won’t take a genius to uncover plenty of data about you. That’s why mobile security is such a big deal. If you want to make sure that your phone is as safe as it can be, then read on to find out how to protect your precious data…
Codes, Passwords, Fingerprints and Voice Recognition…
The very basic level of phone security can easily be set up on your phone itself. By accessing the settings menu in your phone you’ll be able to set up an unlock password, passcode or even a pattern. This means that once your phone is locked you’ll need to enter the password, passcode or pattern to unlock it. This is only basic security, and will stop only the most casual of thieves from accessing your phone, but it’s still absolutely worth doing.
Some phone step this basic security up a little by having high tech alternatives. The iPhone 5S, for example, has its much touted fingerprint scanner, so you’ll need the right fingerprint to open your phone. There are also plenty of apps that will let you use your phone’s voice recognition software to unlock. The Android app Voice Lock for example lets you set a password and then matches both your voice and the word before your phone can be opened. These alternatives do offer higher security, but again, they’re not going to stop determined thieves from getting your info.
A further step that you can take is to encrypt your data. This means that the phone scrambles the data and will only unscramble it when the correct password is given. Android phones have a setting under the security menu that allows you to do this, and you can choose whether to do it for the whole phone or just for info stored on an external SD card. The benefit (or maybe disadvantage, depending on how likely you are to remember your password) of this is that if the wrong password is entered multiple times, or an attempt is made to override the password the data on your phone is simply left encrypted and unreadable.
iPhones also allow encryption, with the basic passcode method already encrypting things like your email, though if you want to encrypt more than that you’re going to need to download an app to do it for you. TrueCrypt is a popular app for this, though many other apps use TrueCrypt to encrypt data, despite being marketed under other names.
You’ll need to protect your phone internally as well, and that’s why you should install an anti virus programme. This will stop your phone picking up viruses when you’re surfing the internet or opening email, which is a good thing, since there are viruses that are very effective at both stealing your data and deleting it. Avira and Avast are both good options for mobiles, just as they are for your home computer.
You’ve got an iPhone? Yes, you still need anti virus. Whilst in the past iOS was relatively immune to most viruses the truth is that iOS devices are so popular nowadays that more and more hackers are designing Apple only viruses. You’re not as safe as you once were, so downloading an anti virus app is a good plan even if you do own an iPhone.
Finally, your last level of protection should be the ability to erase your data from another device should you lose your mobile. Both Android and iPhones offer “find your phone services” which are easy to sign up for. You will need to take the initiative and sign up before anything happens though, once your phone is gone it’s too late.
You’ll need to sign up for this service (with Android you’ll do that under the Android Device Manager, with iOS you can do it from iCloud) but it is free. Should your phone get lost, you log on to the site online and have a variety of options. You can attempt to locate your phone using GPS, but you can also remotely wipe all the data from your mobile, meaning that no one else will get their hands on it.
There are also apps that will do this for you, though some are paid alternatives. It’s up to you whether you choose to download a remote find your phone app, but the service is now standard on both Androids and iPhones.
Basic Mobile Security Tips
You can minimise your chances of your phone being hacked or stolen by following a few common sense rules. Many of these are similar to the rules for home computer security:
- Never open an email attachment, SMS or MMS attachment that comes from someone you don’t know, this is a common way to send a virus into your phone.
- Don’t ignore your anti virus software, if a message flashes up that a site you’re visiting is unsafe then back off.
- Don’t connect to unknown WiFi networks, particularly public hotspots that have no password.
- Switch off your Bluetooth if you’re not using it.
- Never leave your phone unattended.
- Keep your mobile in an inside pocket or tucked away inside a bag.
Losing your phone can be a nightmare. Just thinking about all those missed calls, texts and emails is pretty stressful. But once you start to consider the implications of losing the kind of data that you store on your phone, the consequences of your mobile being in someone else’s hands are much more serious.
By taking steps now to protect your mobile you can be assured that your data is as safe as it can be. There are no guarantees, technology changes fast as does the ingenuity of mobile thieves and hackers, but given that many of these security options are free you won’t be out of pocket and it could mean the difference between losing a phone and losing your identity.