Smartphones are the first thing we check before leaving the house, and they are the first thing we check after entering the house.
They have become an integral part of our lives. We have apps on them to carry out all of our tasks. Smartphones are doing so many things for us – from banking to entertainment to taking photos and connecting with friends. As people’s dependence on smartphones increases, so does the concerns about privacy and data security.
Our smartphones know more than any other person knows about us. They contain our data, including photos, contacts, passwords, credit card information, and much more. The technology underlying these devices makes our data vulnerable to theft and cybercrimes.
According to cybersecurity firm, Check Point, more than 1.3 million Google accounts were infected by hackers through illegitimate apps. It is also estimated that more than 13,000 devices are infected daily. Smartphone security should always keep us on our toes, and complacency is not the way to go about it.
Today, your data is facing many threats. It is recommended to keep improving the security features of your smartphone to protect your data. You can use the following tips to enhance the security of your smartphones:
1. Set strong passwords:
A strong password or PIN significantly increases the safety of your phone and data, but a large number of people still do not use passwords to protect their smartphones. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that one-third of the surveyed people didn’t set a password to protect their smartphones and data.
Without a strong password in place, your data and private communications are vulnerable to online and offline attacks. Fortunately, the latest smartphones come with a variety of security features and protection techniques, including:
- Face recognition
- Biometric pass
- 4-digital PIN codes
- Swipe patterns
Face recognition and fingerprint scanners offer the most protection, followed by passwords and PIN codes. Swipe pattern is the least secure way to protect your phone because fingers often leave trails on the screen, making it easy for attackers to trace them and unlock the phone.
In addition to the phone unlock methods, you should also add an extra lock on apps that store sensitive data such as private communication and banking information. With these security measures in place, smartphone owners can be sure that their phone will be of little use to a thief even if it gets stolen.
2. Use a VPN when connecting to an unknown network:
Who doesn’t like free Wi-Fi? Our eye lit up on the notification of an open network, and we connect to it, without any second thought. After all, who doesn’t want to save data costs? While it may save you some money, a public wireless network always poses a potential security concern.
Therefore, always switch off a wireless network when not in use. This will not only save on battery power but will also prevent malicious parties from connecting to your device.
If you still want to rely on an open network, always remember to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN creates a secure private network and allows access to websites and resources without your data being intercepted by other users on the same network. A VPN shields your data transmission and mitigates the risks of malicious attacks on public networks.
When looking for a VPN, it is necessary to research the provider and ensure that they are credible and trustworthy. Read the service agreement to understand what happens to your data and avoid any fraudulent VPN involved in questionable practices.
3. Update your phone and apps:
Smartphone companies and app developers regularly release updates and bug fixes that improve security and guard your phone against potential data breaches and cyber-attacks. The updates reduce your vulnerability and make it hard for intruders to break into your phone and apps. Hence, whenever a new update is announced for your phone’s Operating System (OS) or an app, install it immediately!
Not only will the updates bring new features to your phone and apps, but it will also improve your overall experience. Keeping your phone and apps up to date will help you stay a step ahead of hackers.
You can either choose to install the updates automatically by clicking the “Auto Update” in settings or update your device’s operating system manually. The manual update method in iPhones requires you to go to “Settings”, tap the “General” tab, and look for “Software Update”.
Android users can do the same by visiting the “System” option in settings and choosing “Advanced”, followed by “System Update”. The steps may vary with the version of the operating system and device you are using.
4. Use an antivirus program:
The smartphone security system may have become smarter but make no mistake. Hackers have adapted as well. The recent security breaches and data theft show that hackers have shifted their focus to smartphone users.
A study from the University of Cambridge suggested that more than 80 percent of Android devices are exposed to vulnerabilities.
Luckily, there are many security software that protects your device and data from viruses, malware, and other attacks. Some popular antivirus software, including Avast and Norton, now provide mobile security software to protect you against online threats. Other companies offer free mobile protection with additional features like VPN, call blocking, remote device locking, data wiping, and more.
However, many fake antivirus programs have also made their way to smartphones. So, make sure you do the necessary research before choosing a phone protection software.
5. Be careful when installing communication apps:
When installing a new app on your device, pay close attention to the permissions it requires to operate on the phone. Apps usually ask access to camera, microphone, gallery, and media files. These may be legitimate requirements for communication apps, but they are also open to potential abuse.
You should use apps that employ the latest security features and safeguards your data with techniques such as encryption. Apps like iMessage and WhatsApp support end-to-end encryption to secure users’ data against malicious attacks.
It can be tough to filter out malicious apps, but a good idea is to read the reviews before you install them. Review platforms, for instance, gives you an idea of how other users think about the app. If an app is involved in any questionable activities, you will find plenty of users voicing their concerns in the app store.
The bottom line
Regardless of how cautious you may be, you can’t eliminate the danger of your data being compromised. Educate yourself about the latest exploits and online threats and follow these tips to build a solid defense against malware, viruses, and other online attacks. Being proactive and not reactive is key when it comes to securing your smartphone.