Smartphones continue to grow in popularity
and are now as powerful and functional as some computers. It is important to
protect your smartphone just like you protect your computer as mobile
cybersecurity threats are growing. These tips can help you reduce the risk of
exposure to mobile security threats:
- Set PINs and passwords. If your phone ends up in the wrong hands,
your first line of defense is to require a PIN or password to unlock the
- Use anti-virus software apps. Just like your computer, your
smartphone is susceptible to viruses and other malware. You need a security app
with the same features as the security software on your computer. Look for one
that can detect viruses in web sites, texts, e-mail, files and apps.
- Install security apps that enable remote location, locking and
wiping. Many apps allow you to locate your phone if it is lost or stolen.
If you cannot find it, you may want to lock or wipe the data off of it to
prevent someone from using it or looking through any personal information you
may have stored on it. In many cases, you can find an anti-virus app that
includes these features as well.
- Do not modify your smartphones security settings. You may be
tempted to jailbreak or root your phone to access
hidden features and unofficial apps. However, doing this can circumvent many of
the safeguards that are built into the phones operating system, making it
more vulnerable to unforeseen risks.
- Backup and secure your data. You should backup all of the data
stored on your phone such as your contacts, documents, and photos. These
files can be stored on your computer, on a removal storage card, or in the
cloud. This will allow you to conveniently restore the information to your
phone should it be lost, stolen, or otherwise erased.
- Only install apps from trusted sources. Before you install an app,
research it and make sure it is legitimate. Many apps from untrusted sources
contain malware that once installed can steal information, install viruses, and
cause harm to your phones contents.
- Understand app permissions before accepting them. Make sure to
check the privacy settings for any app you install on your smartphone. You
should be cautious to allow an app access to the personal information you have
stored on your phone.
- Accept updates and patches to your smartphones software.
Software, whether on your computer or on your phone, can have flaws that make
it vulnerable to malware. As these flaws are discovered, the software developer
will release updates to patch them, so its important to approve these
updates when you see them become available.
- Turn off Bluetooth discovery mode. Unless you need to pair your
phone to another device, turn this mode off. Leaving it on all the time will
cause your phone to continuously advertise itself to other Bluetooth devices
which could result in an unauthorized connection.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots. When you access a Wi-Fi network that
is open to the public, your phone can be an easy target of cybercriminals. You
should limit your use of public hotspots and instead use protected Wi-Fi from a
network operator you trust or mobile wireless connection to reduce your risk of
exposure, especially when accessing personal or sensitive information. Always
be aware when clicking web links and be particularly cautious if you are asked
to enter account or log-in information.
- Wipe data on your old phone before you donate, resell or recycle
it. If you do not, you risk exposure of information that you may have
forgotten was on your phone.
- Report a stolen smartphone. If your phone is stolen, you should
report the theft to your local law enforcement authorities and then register
the stolen phone with your wireless provider. This will provide notice to all
the major wireless service providers that the phone has been stolen and will
allow for remote bricking of the phone so that it cannot be
activated on any wireless network without your permission.
- Beware of text message spam. Spam can be sent by text message just
like by e-mail. Exercise the same caution you would if it was an e-mail. Be
very cautious about any texts you receive that contain links. If you do not
expect it, you should not open the link. Doing so could expose your phone to
unwanted software or unexpected charges on your next bill.