Malware for mobile devices is growing just as fast as the number of apps we’re downloading. According to the 019’s McAfee report on cybersecurity, an average person has between 60 and 90 apps on their phone. Chillingly, the report found that in 2018, one-third of mobile threats had to do with hidden apps.
We may be the experts on boosting signal, but having great cell phone signal is useless if your phone is under threat. It’s important to take steps to prevent hackers from accessing your messages, data, pictures and information. Hidden apps are only one part of the landscape of threats: fake apps, banking trojans, and cryptomining are also fields that threaten cell phone security. Whether your device has an iOS or Android system, here is a simple guide to improving your cell phone’s security that you can start applying right now:
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9 Quick Tips to Secure Your Phone:
- Create a real password
- Stop postponing your phone’s OS updates
- Set up fingerprint unlock
- Uninstall -unnecessary- apps
- Opt for a trusted VPN app
- Avoid opening unknown links
- Try filling out your passwords without help
- Think twice if you really need that public WiFi
- Paid solution: Get a security token
Time is key to making your phone secure. Make the most out of this blog and check what you may be missing when it comes to protecting your sensitive data.
1. Create a real password
Get rid of your date-of-birth as your 6-digit password, or an easy-to-guess pattern -for Android users-. The good thing is that both iOS and Android systems enable users to set up passphrases or ten-digit pins that can take years for hackers to crack. Give yourself as much time as needed to think about a password that can enhance your cell phone security.
2. Stop postponing your phone’s OS updates
Malware creators innovate all the time, so most OS updates focus on combating their new creations. They work constantly to protect our cell phones, and when they spot a coding gap that may release users’ private data, a new update is often available as a notification and will need your permission to update. Sure, the notifications asking for an OS update are annoying, but they’re critical for keeping your data secure.
3. Set up fingerprint unlock
We’re not only talking to iOS users. Most Android mobile devices now also include fingerprint sensors that make it more difficult for people to access your phone. Go to Settings and then Security to set up fingerprint unlocking. We don’t advise activating face unlocking on Android unless the sensor is 3D.
4. Uninstall -unnecessary- apps
Do you still need that app you downloaded some months ago to get a discount on something that is no longer available? Because it might be in the background tracking what you do, right now. Have a look at all the apps you have and don’t hesitate to remove those you don’t need at all. This also frees up space on your phone, so that’s an added bonus.
5.Opt for a trusted VPN app
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It encrypts all the data your phone is processing when using, for example, a public network. If someone manages to get to your data without your permission, it will still be encrypted and only accessible for you and the VPN provider. The market offers plenty of VPN apps, but look for one that’s trusted most by users in your mobile store.
6. Avoid opening unknown links
They usually come from emails and are automatically stored by your server on the Spam or Junk folder. However, if they show up in your inbox, make sure the source is well known by you. If you have no idea who the source is, then don’t click on the link, especially if the sender doesn’t even know your name. This seems obvious, but you’d be shocked to learn how many people don’t heed this basic advice.
7. Try filling out your passwords without help
If you don’t mind filling out passwords every time you access to any of your accounts, you can also opt to stop the Auto Fill feature from your iPhone, which will stop saving your passwords, including debit and credit cards, and the Smart Lock for Passwords and Auto Sign-in feature from your Android phone. By doing so, hackers will need more than just your phone to gain access to your accounts.
Yes, it’s a little less convenient than having all your passwords saved to your device, but it’s a small price to pay for the even greater inconvenience of having your credit card information or identity pilfered.
8. Be Wary of Public WiFi
If you are transferring money or paying your bills through your phone by using a public network, ask yourself is such action can wait until you get home. It’s one of the easiest ways for hackers to steal information. Think of dozens of people transferring data in the same place through the same network.
9. Paid solution: Get a security token
Do you want to go a step further? Save some space in your key ring. A physical security key is part of a two-step authentication process that grants access to your phone and information. Even if after all these steps someone steals your passwords from your phone, your accounts will still need the second password given by the security key.
iOS and iPhone security tips
Activate Find My iPhone before it’s too late
Even though it’s quite difficult for hackers to beat your iPhone security systems, it takes less than one minute to activate such an option and, in case of losing the phone, you will not put your photos, contacts and other private data at risk. Go to Settings, tap your profile picture, and tap Find My to proceed.
Go a step further against spies by erasing the data
Apple can erase your phone’s data after ten failed attempts to unlock it, but your info will still remain secure on iCloud. Go to Settings, then Face/Touch ID and Passcode and, after filling out your password, you will be able to activate the option Erase Data.
Don’t share location data in images
When you share photos that include the location, bear in mind that there is some metadata that can be used for different purposes. Next time you share it, be relieved that you can select the photo, tap on Options and then deactivate the option of Location.
Android security tips
Since 2014 Android has worked hard to ensure their system’s security by encrypting all data that your device processes. However, Android software is not exclusive for phones fabricated by Google (the hardware, which can also be HP, Motorola, etc.).
That said, more prevention should be addressed as hackers are good at spotting gaps between the operative system coding and the hardware. Hence why you may want to:
Use an antivirus
They help both hardware and software provide cell phone security and work just as they do on your laptop or PC. An antivirus saves you time, and automatically updates against the latest malware and hacker strategies to access to private data. If you already have an antivirus at home, ask if the subscription covers mobile devices.
Say ‘No’ to unknown downloads
If for some reason you need to download an app that is not in the PlayStore, it will not be covered by PlayProtect, an Android security measure. That means it will be at your own risk to download an app with potential threats to steal your information.
Turn on the 2-step verification process
This just-in-case tip makes sense to prevent people from accessing your Google account if they manage to steal your password. The second filter is a password that will be sent to your phone via SMS or voicemail.
To sum up, you will need to give yourself some time to take measures that may reduce risk if you get exposed to hackers. They will keep looking for opportunities to access sensitive information, don’t make it easy for them and be the guardian of your own data.
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