We store a lot of information about ourselves on our mobile devices. From pictures, to text messages, bank accounts and sometimes GPS locations to our homes. But is this information safe? Can it be stolen? As a matter of fact, it can be stolen quite easy if we do not pay attention to what apps we install, what websites we visit and what emails we open. After all, a smartphone is a tiny computer, and it has the same weaknesses.
So, how can we protect ourselves from these threats? Installing an antivirus program is a start, these apps are available in large numbers for Android users, and if you own an iOS device, we already have featured an article with some great iOS antiviruses. Also, you can protect your device by utilizing some of the following tips for protecting your smartphone provided by Internet Crime Complaint Center (subdivision of the FBI) in the hope of rising public interest due to the recent infection of multiple devices by the Loozfon and FinFisher viruses:
- If you bought a new smartphone, try to turn off all features that you do not need. Like auto-update or Bluetooth. This will minimize the possibility of your phone being hacked.
- Use encryption software if you can. The OS has a level of encryption, but a third party app can make all the difference.
- When installing a new app from the Play Store or App Market, look at the overall score of the app, the reviews and the permissions it needs. Some apps ask for permissions they do not need, so be on the lookout!
- Use a PIN and when possible and passwords for different apps (like banking apps) or other apps that have sensitive information. A password is a great way to keep attackers at bay.
- As I mentioned before, look for an antivirus app that works on your device. They can alert you if something is wrong.
- Keep an eye out for apps that know your location (Geolocation). If the information is leaked, strangers might know where you live or where you are.
- If you own a rooted or jailbroken device, be especially careful. Some apps that require root access can go about your phone unrestricted, because they have system access. These can be dangerous and can access any part of your phone. Be very careful when installing such apps.
- Connect only to known wireless networks. If your phone has a feature that allows it to connect automatically to any free network it finds, you should turn it off. Some of them might be access points used by hackers to obtain the information that passes through them.
- If you want to sell your device, be sure to delete all data on it. Do a factory reset to ensure that no data is left on the phone before you pass it to someone else.
- Update your phone whenever you have the possibility. Developers of the operating systems on our smartphones are hard at work to make them safer. So, when you see an OS update available, you should make it.
- Try to use only the intended app markets from the developers of the OS. Do not click or download apps from unknown sources.
- Remember, your smartphone is a smaller computer, it needs the same level of protection, so be at guard and implement the same security features that your computer has.
By keeping a watchful eye and applying some of these tips, you can better protect your smartphone against information leaks. Nowadays, because security threats to smartphone users are on the rise, we must be extra careful what we do with our smartphones.