There are folks who’d love to get in your phone. Here’s how to stop them.
photo: Kārlis Dambrāns
While Apple is in the spotlight as it battles against the FBI to keep the iPhone secure from government surveillance, many people aren’t aware that their own personal phone could also be a security risk. We’ve laid out some basic tips that will keep your data safe from the prying eyes of hackers, phishers and scam artists.
1. Always Enable Password Protection
If someone does get your phone, having password protection enabled is the best line of defense against your information being accessed readily. Not using a password means thieves can access your data the moment they have your phone. Employing a password means that, as with the FBI, they’re stuck until the makers of the OS decide (or are forced) to offer some kind of backdoor entry method.
2. Install a Tracker App or Tool
These days, there are many tracker apps and tools on the market, and some phones even have them built in already. Others are free or almost free. It only takes a few moments to install one of these apps and configure it. Just think about the replacement cost of your phone. Is the loss of a small bit of time worth that much money?
3. On Android: Install an Antivirus App
If you use an Android phone, be aware that there are viruses and malicious apps that can expose it to data theft, GPS tracking, app corruption or worse. This applies to all Android users, whether you side-load apps, use third-party app stores or refrain from such resources. The price of an antivirus app is vastly outweighed by the cost of misused data or a stolen phone.
4. Don’t Use Free Wi-Fi
Open Wi-Fi networks are notorious dens of opportunity for hackers. When the cost of entry is zero, a hacker can return again and again to a lucrative pool of unsuspecting users logging into secure websites, sending messages to their friends or accessing Facebook. While it’s true that, in theory, hackers can do the same things on paid networks, they’re less likely to because staying on them costs time and money. Instead of using free networks, use proprietary ones, or even better, use a cellular connection.
5. Turn Off Bluetooth When You’re Not Using It
Unless you use a Bluetooth headset on a regular basis, you should keep Bluetooth off on your phone when it’s in normal use. As with Wi-Fi, hackers can tap into this signal to pull data from your phone or install tools that can open it up for access. Instead, turn on Bluetooth only as needed.
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6. Don’t Click on Links in Unknown Texts
It should go without saying; just as with email, text messages from unknown people, particularly messages containing links, should be regarded with skepticism. If you don’t recognize the number, you can try replying to the message for further details (scam text messages often generate an error when you try to reply to them), but it’s likely better to just discard it. Never give your personal information to someone you don’t know.
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