Lock Down Your Smartphone with These Easy Steps
A recent report on CNN calls smartphone security “a luxury for those who can afford it,” implying the more expensive iPhone offers true security while the fragmented Android market is left vulnerable. There is some truth to the statement — the iPhone offers a more comprehensive platform that makes security much easier — but this doesn’t mean Android is left in the dust.
Whether you have an older Android or the newest iPhone, these security basics will help protect the data inside nearly any smartphone and save the enormous headache of dealing with a breach, identity theft or just the annoying data collection from different apps we have on our devices.
It seems obvious but so many smartphone users let regular software updates fall behind, especially Android devices that are late to Google’s regular update schedule. These updates aren’t just for slick new features — they’re filled with bug and malware fixes on which developers work hard to keep up with the latest attacks. Keep your smartphone’s OS updated or those bugs will attack you.
Turn Off Location Services
Apps such as Google Maps or Uber absolutely need location services to function, most of the apps sitting on your phone can have that feature turned off without losing much or any function.
Most apps will likely ask for location permission, but think about how much it’s actually needed before tapping “yes.” Yelp, for example, uses location tracking to find restaurants in your area, but you can just as easily type in a zip code over leaving location exposed. It’s good for your battery life and it’s good for your privacy.
Block Phone Numbers
Remember *69 and *67? Those tricks didn’t die with touch tone home phones. You can block annoying robo-callers without using your smartphone’s software. T-Mobile, for example, uses *67 to block callers even in 2017. Simply dial *67, enter the number you want to block, and hit call (it doesn’t call them). Check with your own carrier to see what security features they offer outside of your smartphone’s software.
Lock Your Phone!
It shouldn’t need to be said, but it still happens. Both iOS and Android make it incredibly easy to set up a password, PIN and even a fingerprint reading from the very moment you setup your smartphone. Turn on the password function immediately and set up “Find My iPhone/Android” so that you can wipe/lock your phone’s data if it’s ever lost or stolen.
Assume the Worst of Public Wi-fi
With many of us still using tiered data plans, public Wi-fi is a godsend at coffee shops and airports, but who’s prying in on those open connections? It’s easy to check bank accounts, work logins and other password-sensitive information by habit whether at home or in public spaces, but you must assume the worst when using insecure connections. Hackers can easily look into public Wi-fi and even create their own dummy connections to lure potential victims into forfeiting information. Rule of thumb — don’t connect to Wi-fi you don’t know and don’t access sensitive information out of the house. When in doubt, use your own LTE connection.