Did you get a new mobile device this Christmas? Mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular: over 75% of people in the United States now use some form of internet-enabled smartphone device. However, while handheld technology is advancing, so is the risk of hacking. Mobile devices can be especially vulnerable to cybercrime, unless the right steps are taken. Learn how to make your mobile more secure with this handy guide to security software, locking systems and general data safety.
What are the risks to mobile users?
Mobile devices carry a whole lot of personal data. From your social media accounts and private messages to your credit card details, a mobile phone can give a lot of secrets away. Theft of a mobile is a common way that personal data gets breached, but hackers can also get into your mobile device without it ever leaving your hands! The internet enables your phone to do a whole lot of things, but it also allows other people an opportunity to commit crime against you. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to keep your mobile safe.
Things you can do right now to improve mobile security:
- Use locking systems
- Have strong passwords
- Install anti-virus software
- Turn on firewall technology
- Avoid insecure public networks
- Take out insurance
- Stay vigilant against theft, loss or damage
How to make your mobile more secure
Start by having a decent lock on your cell phone or tablet. Better yet, have five! There are many different ways to lock your mobile device, securing different access regions and preventing unauthorized use.
Our five step guide to locking your mobile device:
1. Use the PIN code feature when signing in (usually a 4-digit code)
2. Set up your lock screen code (usually a swipe pattern)
3. Use the thumbprint lock if available (newer Android and Apple devices)
4. Set up log-in locks on individual apps
5. Register your mobile device and enable an account password
One password is easy to crack, but having layers of security means your phones functions will be rendered inaccessible, even if somebody manages to get past the first step and unlock your device. Remember not to store your passwords with or on your device. If you do need to write them down, put the details in a safe, locked place in your home. Passwords should be difficult to guess and made from a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
The process for setting up passwords varies slightly between apps and phones, but as a general guide, just head to Main Menu > Settings > Privacy and Security. Here, you will find menus that talk you through the set-up process.
Run those updates for added security
It can be tempting to swipe those annoying update notifications away and ignore them, but putting off an update can leave your device vulnerable to cyber-risks. Many OS updates are designed to patch up security flaws, and without them you could be exposed to danger. Make time to update regularly. To run an update, follow the prompts off your mobile’s notifications screen or go to Settings > About > System Updates.
Install anti-virus software
Just like your home computer, your cell phone is vulnerable to cyber attacks caused by viruses. A computer virus can be spread through emails, web links, apps and other seemingly innocent sources, and it can have devastating effects on your device. From allowing personal files to be accessed to completely shutting down your devices, viruses are bad news.
However, there is a solution. You can install anti-virus software on your mobile device and this will fight against any nasty intruders. AVG and McAfee are among the most popular, but there are many you can choose from. Simply head to the Apple Store or Play Store to purchase and download your software – the installation process is automatic. Once installed, be sure to run scans regularly: and make use of the clean-up tool as well.
Firewalls are a little like anti-virus programs, except they are designed to keep unauthorized users off your network and away from your private data. Make sure firewalls on your device are turned on and up, and consider downloading added protection with a dedicated firewall app. While you access a public Wi-fi network, the firewall keeps your connection private.
Avoid jailbreaking and hacking your own device
It can be tempting to follow those online tutorials and give your mobile device an access boost through jailbreaking – but unless you know exactly what you are doing, it is best avoided. When you break down your mobile device’s operating system so that you can add new programs and functions, you are also opening it up for other people to do the same. If you don’t know how to plug those security gaps, it is best to stay away from the idea entirely! For those willing to take the risk, there are some great guides to jailbreaking online.
Take out mobile device insurance
Mobile and tablet insurance is becoming more popular, and almost half of mobile devices in the United States are now covered by insurance. Your insurer can provide financial compensation in the event of theft or loss of your phone – and they may be able to provide practical support too. Some companies will assist with tracking software provision that helps you locate a lost device, and others can provide third party hosting that backs up and wipes files held on your mobile device.
Download a data wipe app
Android offers a particularly good version of this app, but you can also get the software for Apple devices. Download free ‘Device Manager’ software from the App Store and enable remote tracking of your mobile and tablet devices. If they do get lost or stolen, you can wipe all the data from them remotely – or you may even be able to locate them through GPS!
Back up your data
Even if you do take every precaution, things can still go wrong. All the security measures in the world will not prevent your phone falling into the bath or going under the wheels of your car! If you did lose your mobile device, what would you do? Make sure you have Cloud and physical back-ups of your data and files, just in case. Insurance can cover the financial loss, but you won’t get those pictures and videos back unless they were backed up!
Images used with thanks to Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons license)