Checklist to protect your mobile device against hackers
With it you can do it all -- email, shop, check your bank account, make hotel reservations, book your flight, listen to a podcast, and, if you’re old school, even make a phone call.
Smartphones and mobile devices are digital assistants we carry in our pockets. They carry as much, if not more, personal information as our laptops or home computers. Hackers know this and are increasingly making smartphones a target of their attacks.
“Mobile device infection rates rose steadily throughout 2016, reaching an all-time high in October and growing 63% over the first half of the year,” according to the Nokia Threat Intelligence Report for the second half of 2016.
“Further, smart phones were targeted most often in July through December, accounting for 85 percent of all mobile device infections and smartphone infections increased 83 percent during this period, compared to the first half of the year.”
So how do you protect your phone? Here are five easy tips:
1. Stay up to date
Start with keeping your operating system up to date. Yes, the pop-up messages can be irritating, but they pop up for a reason. Often times, updates also include security fixes, so that’s your first line of defense.
2. Keep an eye on those apps
In a January Forbes story, Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, said “If hackers find a security hole in an app, they can exploit it to access your personal data. There’s no way to know what kind of information is being collected about you and where it’s being distributed.”
Make sure you are doing a regular cleanup on your phone and deleting apps you no longer use.
In a techlife post about preventing smartphone hacks, Samsung warns not to install apps unless they come from a trusted source. The company also advises checking an app’s permissions before installing. If it wants access to your personal info, don’t install. Or if already installed, deny the request.
3. Keep it locked
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it makes all the lists from experts giving protection tips. Set the auto-lock feature to activate after a short period of inactivity and set a password.
In talking to Forbes, Kaiser advised, “Set up both a biometric security measure, meaning a finger tap or swipe, as well as a passcode. If your phone offers you the option of a 6-digit password over a 4-digit one, opt for that. The longer it is, the stronger it is.”
Samsung recommends changing your password often, and if you have trouble remembering it, to use the face-recognition feature (if available).
4. Watch out for public WiFi
Who doesn’t love free WiFi? It’s great for web searches and checking the latest headlines, but not so great for accessing your bank or credit card accounts.
Don’t enter any passwords or personal info while using public WiFi. Samsung advises using your cellular network when entering such info, as did Kaiser in his Forbes interview.
Other tips include connecting to your Bluetooth only when you’re using it, and adding an extra layer of security by using a virtual private network (VPN).
5. Protect it and track it
Again, it might seem like a no-brainer, but install an antivirus app. Experts also recommend turning on your phone’s tracking feature so if it’s lost or stolen, you can turn your phone off remotely.
There also are a number of monitoring apps, such as Lookout, that can tell you if your phone has any weaknesses. The apps also include a number of free and paid features such as backup, identity protection and missing device location.
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