You have safeguards for your credit, right? You lock your car and home, right? You lock and encrypt your bank accounts and investments, right?
That’s all well and good. But you probably have a device in your pocket containing private information about all those things. And many more.
It’s your cellphone. Many people use their phones to shop and store personal information. But most don’t consider they need to keep their phones as secure as their homes and belongings.
It’s important to remember that the more access you have to your information, the more access everyone else has to your data.
Seamless connections not always helpful
Companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft are making sure all your devices are connected together seamlessly.
That’s convenient. But it also means if hackers access one service, they can use that service’s features to hack into others. And then steal information or completely wipe out your data.
Keep your various devices and services separated as much as possible. That will limit the damage one lost item can do.
Today I want to give you 13 ways to protect your cellphone’s data.
Use a screen lock. A recent report revealed that nearly 30 percent of cellphone owners don’t do this. That means anyone could grab your phone and immediately start using it for multiple purposes. Including accessing your personal data.
A screen lock will keep them out for as long as it takes them to determine your code. If your code is too short or too easy to figure out, go into your settings and strengthen it.
Use 2-factor authentication. This is an extra step, but is worth it for your phone’s most sensitive data. Such as a bank account. Before allowing you to access that account, it will send a time-sensitive code to you through text message.
Update your phone’s software. Operating system and app updates always seem to come at the worst times. Like when you want to use your phone right away. But ignoring updates can mean your phone is at an increased risk of a security breach. So, install updates promptly.
Use an antivirus app. You probably have antivirus software on your computer. So why not on your phone as well? Among them are Avast, McAfee and Panda. They will help ensure that apps and images you want to download to your phone are not infected with malware.
Turn off Bluetooth and WiFi when you’re not using them. Keeping them on by default will save you a step. But it could also compromise your phone’s data. Hackers can make a malicious device appear like a legitimate one you might connect with.
Be careful when using hotspots. They’re great for giving you WiFi access when you’re out in public. But if they’re not protected, your data could be breached by a hacker. WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) might be your strongest data encryption option.
Use a VPN. This is a Virtual Private Network. It assigns you a temporary IP address and allows you to make a secure connection through a private network over the Internet. It keeps your data safe and anonymous.
Use apps for caller protection. Helping keep hackers and other unwanted callers from having access to your phone are apps such as Firewall and Burner. Firewall allows iOS users to send unwanted calls to voicemail without a ring. Burner helps keep private numbers private. It generates new numbers that can be used and then disposed of.
Encrypt your data. GadgetTrak offers a service that will encrypt your data and back it up in the cloud. Including passwords. There are ways around encryption, but this will stop 99 percent of hackers.
Don’t click on email or text message links unless you’re sure you know who sent them to you. Phishing scams are designed to trick you into giving up personal information. Clicking on links could open attachments that will plant malware on your phone.
Use apps to find a stolen or lost phone. Apps such as Find My iPhone and Find My Device can be used to find your lost phone before someone else does. The app will locate your phone on a map and automatically disable it if you believe it was stolen. Or if you think you merely misplaced it in or around your home, you can make it ring to help find it.
Wipe your phone remotely. What if someone steals your phone and hacks into it to obtain your passwords, financial information and recent whereabouts? If your phone is stolen, use GadgetTrak, SeekDroid or Webroot to remotely wipe its data. This can be done from your home computer.
I saved one of the most important ways for last. Avoid charging your cellphone in public places. Such as airports, shopping centers, hotel conference rooms and coffee shops. A compromised public port can transmit data from your phone to a hacker’s device. Including your emails, texts and contacts. It’s known as “juice jacking.”
The more technology advances, the more personal information many of us have on our phones. Let’s be as diligent about protecting our phone’s security as we are our homes.