Smartphones are devices that constantly send and receive signals online, and that makes them always vulnerable to criminals. To keep your phone and its contents safe, you need to create a strategy to protect your personal information. In this guide we share some tips for protect your smartphone from hackers and intruders.
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Update your operating system and applications
If an update is announced for the operating system of your cell phone or any of the applications, install it as soon as possible, it does not matter if you do not use that app frequently.
Companies constantly update their software, but they don’t do it just for aesthetic reasons. Many updates include bug fixes and security improvements, which help protect your smartphone from hackers and data theft by removing vulnerabilities.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
Everyone should be aware of the dangers of using an open Wi-Fi network. A public network in shopping malls, cafes, airports or any other public place is an ideal space for hackers.
Try to use only your mobile connection and turn off Wi-Fi when you are in a public place. If that’s not possible, consider a VPN app, which funnels network communications over an encrypted connection.
But be very careful: not all VPNs have the same quality. We also suggest turning off Bluetooth, unless you’re using a smartwatch that requires it.
Lock your smartphone
Always enter a four or six digit passcode to access your device. They may not be very convenient, but you’ll appreciate it if you lose it in a public place.
Email, contacts, photos, and banking information could easily be exposed. Even consider a longer password, with numbers and letters.
If this security mechanism bothers you, fingerprint scanning and Face ID are easier and faster alternatives. Make sure apps with personal information are also locked with passwords.
Keep your mobile phone number private
Just like before you didn’t give your landline number to the first person who asked for it, don’t give your cell phone number to any application that asks for it. The more you provide your number, the more vulnerable you are to SMS intrusions and scams, and even to the invasion of your two-step verification protected accounts (2FA).
Consider adding a second line to your cell phone. Google Voice is a great way to protect your number from online criminals, as are apps like Sideline, Line2 and Hushed, which make it easy to add a second line to your mobile phone.
Do not share your life in excess in the RRSS
It’s okay to use your real name on social media like Facebook and Twitter, but avoid sharing too much revealing information about yourself.
Avoid listing hometowns, specific addresses, specific work locations, phone numbers, last names, and other details that hackers can use to track you down.
Facebook allows you to hide much of the information about you with its privacy settings and tools, including most of your photos, friend lists, and more.
Take care and streamline your feed to get rid of old and outdated information that could reveal more about you than you want. Better yet: If you can, use Facebook only on your home computer, rather than on your phone.
Don’t risk your personal information
Don’t store personal information, documents, or files on your phone, and limit the number of geotagged photos in your Camera Roll or Gallery.
Get in the habit of keeping your phone with the least amount of personal information, downloading images and documents to your computer, and deleting sensitive emails from financial, employer, and health-related accounts.
Use two-factor authentication
This is another security measure that most do not support. The two-factor authentication (2FA) it’s annoying because it involves an extra step, and it’s really a pain if you forget to have your cell phone nearby. But, just like passwords, it provides an extra layer to protect your smartphone from hackers.
Use strong passwords
Everybody hates passwords. But when it comes to assigning them, don’t take half measures.
Only use strong passwords that are not easily cracked by hackers. They must contain 16 to 20 characters, with a mix of letters and numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols.
Brute force password crackers will be able to crack many, but making it easy for you by using your birthday, pet’s name, or the same password for everything is a lousy idea.
There are many online password generators, so you don’t necessarily have to create them yourself. Change your keys every six months to a year, or when you learn of a data breach in your applications.
Don’t answer security questions honestly and change your answers. This makes it more difficult for hackers to figure out how to break into your phone based on your publicly available information online.
Beware of spam and phishing emails
One of the easiest ways for hackers to break into your phone and access your information is through your email inbox. Phishing scams are designed to trick you into transferring access to your accounts.
Avoid clicking links in promotional emails, opening suspicious attachments, or running email-requested app updates.
Don’t access financial accounts through random emails, but go to the financial institution’s website and log in with your username and password.
Use built-in device protections
They aren’t called “smart phones” for nothing. If your phone is lost or stolen, you can, with any luck and to some extent, do some damage control with device tracking services.
Always have tracking apps like Find My iPhone and Android Find My Device enabled and configured, which locate your smartphone on a map and, in some cases, can automatically erase it.
These services can make your cell phone ring to locate it, if, for example, you cannot find it inside your house. Also, you can have it delete all information after a set number of password attempts.
Use an antivirus app
Hackers prefer malware to steal passwords and account information. But you can combat it with an antivirus application for mobile devices, some of which are derived from popular desktop applications, such as Avast, mcafee Y Panda.
Mobile variations provide enhanced security by ensuring that the apps, PDFs, images, and other files you download are not infected with malware.
Manage permissions for apps
Check apps on your phone to determine if they have more privileges than they need. You can grant or deny permissions, such as access to the camera, microphone, contacts, or location. Keep track of these and revoke the ones you don’t need.
On an iPhone, go to Settings> Privacy, where you will see a list of all the applications and the permissions you have granted.
On an Android cell phone, it will depend on each device. On a Google Pixel, it will be in Settings > Apps & notifications > Advanced > Permission manager, while on a Samsung Galaxy you’ll find it in Settings > Apps > App permissions from the three vertical dots at the top right.
You should consider preparing for the worst, so regularly back up your phone to protect important documents and pictures in case of loss or theft.
This way you can access those photos or files even if your cell phone is lost or stolen. If your iPhone is backed up, you can set it to erase data after two failed password attempts.
Know the origin of your applications
Don’t download any old app on your cell phone. Although, in the case of iPhone, it is limited to the Apple App Store, which reviews all the applications that are sold on the platform, it is easy to download applications on Android, so not all of them come from the Google Play Store.
The best way to avoid Android malware is to stick to the selection available on the Google Play Store, which is vetted by Google. Never download apps from a text message as this is a method hackers use to inject malware into your phone.
Stay away from public chargers
Charge your phone only in trusted USB ports, like your computer or in your car. Hackers can hack into public USB charging ports, like the ones you find in a coffee shop or airport, to steal personal information.
If you are traveling, take your adapter and your USB cable. Hackers cannot access your cell phone data through your USB adapter.
While jailbreaking allows iPhone owners to access apps and software not available on the Apple App Store, it also exposes your phone to viruses and malware. A jailbroken device will not come under warranty and Apple staff may not be able to help you if it has a fault.
If you take preventive measures to protect your smartphone from hackers and intruders, you should feel confident that you have done everything possible to take care of your sensitive information.
This makes it less likely that they will steal your identity, pry into your personal life, siphon off your money, monitor your cell phone, and generally make your life miserable.