How much do you trust your smartphone? It might sound like a daft question, but just take a minute or two to think about the sheer volume of sensitive information your phone holds – from banking app logins to business messages and emails – and think how much damage could be done if this information fell into the wrong hands.
So, to help make sure your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, here’s how to keep your smartphone secure.
Always lock your screen
A simple one to start with, but always locking your screen is an absolute must – even if you keep your phone on your person, keeping it locked makes it more difficult for thieves to access if they steal it from you, and also helps protect against the potential embarrassment of pocket-dialing someone.
It also helps to make sure your lock screen security is up to scratch – a lot of smartphones rely on a pattern to unlock the screen, but this system isn’t as secure as a PIN (preferably a six-figure PIN) or fingerprint. If you want to keep your phone really secure though, an alphanumeric password is the way to go – it may take a little longer to get into your phone each time, but it’ll be more secure (so long as you avoid passwords like Password1).
And avoid facial recognition security – although a nice gimmick, it’s surprisingly easy to crack.
Always log out of your apps
Locking your screen offers one layer of security, but if anyone manages to get past it they’ll instantly be able to get their hands on all sorts of sensitive data from your email and social media accounts – unless you log out of your apps once you’ve used them.
Banking apps usually require a log in each time you open them anyway, but email and social media accounts will usually keep you logged in for convenience, but you’ll need to log out and not autosave passwords to be completely secure – granted, it’s a bit of a pain logging back in each time, but there’s no other way around it.
Be wary of public WiFi
If there’s free WiFi on offer, it seems daft to not take advantage, if only to save your own data. But public networks are notorious hot spots for hackers and cyber criminals. So, before you connect, turn off your smartphones sharing functionalities, then check you’re accessing a genuine account – hackers will often set up a fake one with a similar name to the real one.
You should always using banking apps on public, unencrypted networks, even if they’re genuine.
Avoid unofficial app stores
Even if cyber crooks can’t get hold of your phone, they may still be able access it remotely by using malware to hack into it. Although smartphones are less at risk from this type of cyber attack than PCs and laptops, hackers are now developing apps to help them access your data.
The risk of downloading a nefarious software is increased if you download apps from unofficial app stores, so try to stick to the official channels, and be aware that rooting or jailbreaking your handset can open up your to potential intrusions that would otherwise be blocked, and to apps that could contain viruses.