If you’re like most people, you’ve come to rely on your Smartphone for everything from taking pictures, to keeping in touch with friends and family, to doing your banking and finding your way around town.
Your Smartphone most likely contains a wealth of personal information about you and your family and, because it’s a computer, it’s just as vulnerable to malware and hackers as your laptop or desktop. The same goes for your tablet, even though you may rely on it less than your phone. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to keep your phone — and your personal data — safe.
1. Use Your Phone’s Built-In Password Protection
Are you part of the one-third of Smartphone users who don’t activate the lock screen on their phone? If so, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to snoops and thieves who may want to access the information in your phone.
Activate your phone’s lock screen and choose a PIN or password that isn’t too easy to guess. Make sure you set the phone to lock after a few minutes of inactivity. That way if someone steals your phone, or a snoop picks it up, they’ll at least have to get through a password lock screen to access your data.
2. Use Trusted Apps Only
The wrong app can hijack your data, infect your phone with malware, or spam your friends, spreading the infection. You can minimize your risk by sticking to apps from Google Play, Apple iTunes, Amazon Appstore and other large, well-known app stores. If you have an Android device, you can uncheck the “Unknown Sources” option and check the “Verify Apps” option under your security settings to further protect yourself.
3. Tweak Your Settings to Lock Out Advertisers
Wherever you go online, an advertiser follows. Even if you’re not concerned about advertisers tracking your digital activities, the way they do it can make you vulnerable to hackers. Adjust your settings to keep hackers out.
4. Enable Remote Tracking and Wiping
Malware and hackers aren’t the only threats to the data on your phone; theft and loss also loom. Use Smartphone security software that offers remote tracking, to help you find a lost phone or tablet, and remote wiping, to help you delete personal information from a stolen phone or tablet.
5. Secure Your Home Wi-Fi Against Intruders
If your home Wi-Fi isn’t secure, criminals may use the signal to steal your financial or other data, and even hack into your devices. Make sure your home Wi-Fi is password protected to keep criminals out of your data and preserve your connection speeds.
6. Be Vigilant on Public Wi-Fi Networks
Public Wi-Fi networks can help you conserve your data when you want to browse Facebook on your phone, but they also leave you vulnerable to hackers. Protect yourself by using an encryption service, or save the banking and shopping for when you’re at home.
7. Don’t Jailbreak Your Phone
It might be tempting to jailbreak your phone in order to install certain apps or access certain services, but doing so strips away built-in security features. To keep your information safe, resist the urge to jailbreak or root your phone.
8. Use Antimalware Software
Just as your laptop or desktop needs anti-malware and anti-virus software, so does your phone. Install a malware blocker and anti-virus app and make sure it stays updated. Many such apps will update automatically.
9. Turn off Bluetooth
It’s a good idea to deactivate your phone’s Bluetooth when you’re not using it. This closes one of the doors through which hackers can access your device, and eliminates a drain on your phone’s battery, too.
10. Wipe Your Device Before You Dispose of It
Before you discard, recycle, or donate your phone, make sure to wipe it of any personal data. In addition to deleting apps, photos, files, and videos, make sure you delete the phone’s internal memory, too. This way your personal data won’t be compromised after you dispose of your phone.
Your Smartphone probably contains a lot of personal information that you’d hate to see fall into the wrong hands. Take steps to protect your phone and the data saved on it, and save yourself a huge headache down the road.