Smartphones have become more common than the PC ever was. Just about everyone has one and uses it to conduct their daily lives. Smartphones are used to conduct banking, make purchases on the run, and to transmit personal data. But do you give enough thought to keeping your data safe from thieves? It’s something you might not think about much because you feel that your smartphone comes with built-in security that isn’t easily broken. However, your phone is more vulnerable than you might think it is. Here are four tips to help you keep your smartphone locked down and your information safe.
Don’t Trust Free Wi-Fi Connections
One of the most common ways to save on data use is to connect to a free Wi-Fi network. This could be anywhere: a restaurant, a store, a library, or even at the house of a friend who lets people connect through an unsecured access point. All information sent through open Wi-Fi is unprotected. That is, there’s no knowing who is using a sniffer to read the data that’s flowing through the air.
Hackers can use devices that record data, then they go through it later. They don’t have to be directly at the location to do this. A hacker can sit nearby and grab information easily without anyone being the wiser. A lot of sensitive information gets stolen in this manner. If you absolutely have to log into an open Wi-Fi connection, don’t do personal banking or transmit other sensitive data.
Use Encryption Software
Encryption software encodes information before it leaves your phone. It verifies that the information you’re sending comes directly from your phone and uses an encryption key to send it. The intended recipient receives the information, regardless of whether it’s a PDF, an email, or any other type of file, and is able to read it without needing to decrypt it with their own software. This goes for both business and personal information. Most phones need to use a third-party app to encrypt data.
Turn Off Access Points and Location Settings
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, location services, and cellular data all create access points to your phone. All communication protocols create signals, and thieves use equipment that seeks out signals that get sent to and from the phone. Smartphones constantly send out “pings” to check for a signal. When the phone pings a cell tower, the cell tower sends back a signal saying yes, the phone is connected to that tower. All devices that connect via a signal send out pings, and these are what thieves look for. Turning off everything except what’s necessary lowers the device’s visibility to thieves and reduces the possibility that they’ll be able to access your phone and information via a “back door” which they might find in your phone’s signals with other devices.
Use an Auto-Wipe App
Locking down a newer smartphone, such as the iPhone 7, with a PIN or swipe pattern is only the beginning of keeping thieves out, especially if your phone is lost or stolen. A thief knows how to determine the correct PIN or pattern to get into your phone, but it takes a few attempts to get it right. Using an app that wipes the phone after a number of incorrect attempts is the most sure-fire way to prevent thieves from getting your data. Every last bit of information and apps get deleted from the phone, making it worthless to a thief who is after your personal information.
You should make sure that you set the number of attempts at a level you’re comfortable with, especially if you’re prone to forgetting your PINs. Also, make sure to back up your data regularly. That way, you can restore everything to the phone if it does get wiped.
Start treating your phone like you treat your PC when it comes to protecting the information it contains. Getting your personal information stolen sets off a chain of events that you don’t want to deal with. Lock down your phone and give yourself peace of mind.