Where would we be without the internet? The internet revolutionized life as we knew it, and we rely on the internet for literally everything. We pay bills, shop, bank, etc. When the mobile phone came into the scene, particularly the smartphone, internet access became easier for anyone with a phone. We do not have to use a PC or laptop to read or reply to emails anymore.
With more convenient internet, access came with added security risks. With more people using their phones or tablets, hackers became more adept at attacking the devices using malware and ransomware. Let us highlight eight easy ways to keep your devices protected.
1. Do not ignore updates
Most of us have seen the security updates that pop up on our devices. These updates are critical for the devices’ security, and you should never ignore them. Malware, or malicious software, exploits vulnerabilities in software.
If you open an infected file or a link in an email, a hacker can gain access into your device and steal your data. If your device is updated and protected with the current security patch or upgraded code, it is harder to compromise. Software developers scan for the newest bugs and immediately improve the existing code to eliminate any threats and enhance code functionality.
2. Always keep your devices locked
If your device gets into the wrong hands, it could give the thief access to your data such as credit card numbers, bank details and other information. To prevent this from happening, always ensure you have a screen lock on your device. You can either use a pattern, passcode, face or fingerprint recognition, depending on the capability of your device.
If you enable the lock screen, you have an option of choosing how long your screen remains idle before it locks again. Select the shortest possible time so that your device is protected if you forget to secure it. The lock screen also saves your battery since the screen goes dark after the time set. On top of the screen lock, ensure you set a SIM card PIN, which prevents anyone from putting your SIM card into another phone and stealing your data.
3. Have secure passwords
Having secure passwords for your apps make it harder for anyone to hack them. You must have a different password for each app. The various app passwords keep your data secure in case one app is hacked. Having the same password for all apps means that hackers will get access to all your data if they manage to guess the password.
Secure passwords apply to both personal and professional devices. In a 2018 report by the Verizon Mobile Security Index, 39% of mobile users in companies change the default passwords, and just 38% use two-factor authentication on their devices. Weak passwords put a company at risk of being hacked.
4. Connect only to secure Wi-Fi networks
Mobile devices allow us to access the web from anywhere in the world. We all love to log in to free Wi-Fi in restaurants, coffee shops or airports. Wi-Fi saves data, but unsecured networks give an opening to hackers to infiltrate your device.
To stay on the safe side, use a VPN to secure your devices. A Virtual Private Network allows you to mask your IP address, hide your location and best of all, and encrypt any data you exchange, making it more difficult for someone peeking in on your network to poach crucial information.
5. Be cautious with downloads
When downloading apps, ensure you download the apps from the relevant official apps stores and check customer reviews before downloading. Hackers create malicious mobile apps, which mimic the original and trusted brands to dupe users into giving out their confidential data. To avoid falling into this trap, go to the review section and look at how many reviews it has, the organization’s contact details and when the app was last updated.
6. Do not root or jailbreak your device
Rooting or Jailbreaking a device is unlocking the device and removing the manufacturer’s safeguard that prevents you from downloading anything. As tempting as it is to root or jailbreak a device to access unofficial app stores, it places you at very high risk. These illegitimate stores build apps that have no vetting, and these security gaps they create can allow hackers to steal your data.
7. Install anti-virus software
Most people assume anti-virus software is only for desktop or laptop computers, but a handheld device can significantly benefit. The anti-virus software helps to reduce considerably hacking attempts and virus attacks by blocking them before they can do any damage.
Smartphones are like mini-computers that hold a lot of our personal information and crucial data such as banking details.
8. Be careful about giving out your number
Just as you do not give your name to random strangers, be very wary about giving your phone number in online prompts, such as making an online purchase or website signups. The more you give out your number online, the more you are at risk of falling for a SIM card swap scam and smishing attacks. In SIM card swap scams, the hackers use your number to access accounts that use multi-factor authentication via text messages.
You may want to consider the use of Google Voice if you need Google to contact you via phone. You are allowed to add a second line to your given mobile phone that they can use to reach you.
Mobile devices are an excellent way to access the internet while on the go. As much as mobile devices revolutionized how we access the internet, they are numerous security risks. Secure your mobile devices and keep hackers at bay by using the above tips. Leaving your phone vulnerable to attacks may cost your personal or professional data leakage, and you might lose money if the hackers get access to your financial data. Security starts with you protecting your devices and information.