If you read news stories, white papers, and conspiracy theories about technology, you’ll probably stop yourself from relying too much on your trusty mobile devices, aka your smartphone and tablet. Every day, we hear stories about breaches in security protocols where a company’s or person’s data spilled all over the internet. Isn’t this the whole point of Wikileaks? Someone with access to the database of the US Army Intelligence hacked into the system and retrieved sensitive and critical information about the U.S. government.
When this information falls on the hand of someone like Julian Assange, the world watches as the case becomes a cat-and-mouse chase. But when it arrives knocking on the doors of cybercriminals, it would mean identify theft, corporate espionage, and financial hacking. This is what you want to prevent when using your mobile devices to browse online stores and send messages to your friends.
What Kind of Information Are on Your Phone?
You may think that you don’t use your phone often enough to have sensitive information about you. Aside from the photos in your camera roll, there is so much personal information about you on your phone. Your browsing history is in your phone, as well as some credit card details you used when buying online. Most of the apps on your phone are also automatically signed in, so that means anyone who can access your mobile devices will have access to your social media accounts, too.
They’ll even have access to your electronic medical records or EMR if you saved your account details on your phone. Imagine your medical history being in the wrong hands. Cybercriminals can use these against you or sell such information to anyone who needs to fake an identity.
Lock Your Phones
Do not forget to password-protect your mobile devices. Use the most complicated passcode you can muster. Depending on your device’s capability, you can protect it with a password, pattern, fingerprint, pr face recognition. Your device will give you the option of how long it will remain open before locking it. Choose the shortest time possible so the phone will automatically lock it even if you forget to do it.
Use Strong Passwords
This cannot be emphasized enough. You have to set strong passwords. If possible, use a two-factor authentication code, so it’s harder for anyone to steal information from your devices. Experts said to use a different password for every app. That is hard but try to create a technique that will allow you to remember the passwords easily. A 2018 report said that only 39% of mobile users are changing default passwords. This makes your information vulnerable.
Update Your Devices’ OS
Some people tend to overlook operating system updates. For them, it’s a waste of time, and there’s always something that doesn’t work after an update. System updates will improve the security and performance of the devices. When you fail to update your devices’ OS, you give hackers and other cybercriminals a chance to steal information from you.
Connect Only to Secure WiFi
You should avoid transacting financially on your phones when you’re on public WiFi. You can’t even trust your office’s internet connection. Make it a point to purchase items online only when you are in your home network. It would help if you didn’t even use your network’s data allocation, as it’s similar to how a public WiFi works.
It would help if you stopped downloading items from the internet. Whether it’s a photo, video, or unauthenticated program, do not click that download button. Cybercriminals mask their phishing scams in legitimate links. So, you may have been able to download a movie without knowing that you also inadvertently sent your information to a criminal. Downloading items from the internet put your devices at high risk.
Encrypt Your Data
Encrypting data means that the information you enter into your mobile devices is stored in an unreadable form. To check if your phone has data encryption enabled, go to your settings and check it under the “security” (for Android) or “Touch ID and passcode” (for iOS) categories. At the bottom of the page, you will see a message saying that your phone’s data is encrypted.
Ignore Spam Emails
Most hackers and cybercriminals get into a computer system because the user or person who owns the device opened a spam or phishing email. A phishing email looks like an ordinary email. Most will ask you to click on a link to collect a coupon code or get free shipping. Clicking on that link will allow cybercriminals to get into your system. That’s how they can steal millions of dollars worth of information from companies as well as the identities of thousands of individuals.
The most important thing to remember when you want to secure your mobile devices is to second-guess everything you do with them. If you’re about to download an app, do not do so unless you have read the reviews and are assured that it’s not merely a way for criminals to get sensitive information. Protecting your information is a sign of a responsible internet user.