Smartphone usage has surged over the past few years, crossing 307 million users in 2022. Many Americans can no longer imagine life without this smart device, as they rely on it for everyday essentials—from setting up daily reminders, keeping track of health, and navigating streets to checking emails, connecting with loved ones, getting news updates, and purchasing products.
In other words, the smartphone has become a mini supercomputer of sorts. It stores large volumes of personal data, which, if left unguarded, could compromise your safety. Therefore, keeping it safe and secure should be a priority to avoid malicious threats both on the internet and in the real world. Here are our top security tips for protecting your smartphone.
Prevent Theft and Loss
Let’s first address the most basic threats to smartphones—physical theft and loss.
If you are in the habit of misplacing items, then taking additional precautions is essential for keeping your phone safe. Always carry it in your pocket or bag, and never leave it out of your sight.
Set Up Screen Locks
In the event someone gets hold of your phone, a screen lock will stop them from accessing its content. Pin codes are the easiest to set up. However, avoid using birthdays and other guessable number combinations.
Biometric authenticators are also becoming popular, with over half the consumers opting for them. These can include fingerprints, facial data, voice, and similar biometric factors unique to each user.
Apply a Privacy Screen Protector
Shoulder surfing is a prevalent threat. This is when malicious individuals watch your phone activities over your shoulders in crowded locations, including cafés, airports, and public transport. It is an easy technique to steal passwords, account details, and a variety of other personal data.
You can deter intruders from shoulder surfing by applying a privacy protector over your phone screen. It limits the visibility of your phone content by blocking certain viewing angles.
Cybercriminals constantly update malware and other technological tools that enable them to infiltrate mobile devices. So, your device software must stay abreast to mitigate these advanced attacks. This is why developers regularly release updates to their software with new security patches that are essential for preventing malicious threats.
Most smartphones automatically search for these updates and install them without requiring your intervention. If yours doesn’t, you can enable automatic updates under the Settings options.
Install Virus Protection
Reliable virus guards can protect your device from most cyberattacks, including malware, spyware, and ransomware. They will often have ad blockers, too, to minimize the risk of adware threats.
Reputed anti-virus software can even monitor unsafe Wi-Fi networks, filter messages, scan your phone for security risks, monitor the dark web, and provide a range of other valuable features to help you remain safe.
Guard Against Unverified Links
Unsolicited messages and emails can contain links that could download malware onto your phone. These are best left untouched if you want to avoid cyber trouble.
When you are unsure of the authenticity of a message’s source, always verify before you click. For instance, you can check unfamiliar numbers on PhoneHistory to identify registered owners. And if the details don’t tally, ignore the message altogether.
Minimize App Usage
Apps undoubtedly improve the usability of your smartphone. Whether you want to make a bank transfer, order dinner, or hail a cab, mobile applications can provide a far superior user experience than websites.
But many apps track and collect an unreasonable amount of user data. This practice helps them improve their services. But it also increases the threats to your privacy. For instance, cybercriminals could steal data belonging to millions of mobile users by hacking into one of these app databases. Some app developers could even share the user information they have collected with third parties in return for monetary gains.
The easiest way to minimize such risks is by reducing the use of mobile apps. Be conscious of the apps you download and the permissions they request. For instance, if they ask for your location and contact list data, question why they would need that information. If you can’t think of a justifiable reason, avoid granting permission.
In addition, remove apps you rarely use. If you haven’t used them over the past three months, chances are you can live without them in the future.
Secure Your Internet Connections
Unsecured public Wi-Fi networks are easier for cybercriminals to infiltrate. Therefore, shielding your online activities with a virtual private network is essential, especially if you need to check your emails, transfer money, or access confidential data that could expose you to security risks when breached.
Opening a personal hotspot using your mobile network is another safe option.
Mind Your Browser Safety
Mobile web browsers can store information about what you searched, documents you downloaded, details you entered on forms, and similar data. This is useful for you to quickly retrieve those details when needed and avoid the hassle of typing them again.
But, in the event of a security breach, malicious actors could get hold of all those personal details and use them for a variety of scams and other nefarious activities. So, regularly deleting your browser cache, cookies, history, and form data is necessary to minimize data threats.
Avoid Saving Passwords
Apps and browsers often ask to save passwords to make it easier for you to log back in. As convenient as it is, this practice increases the risk of data theft.
So, never save passwords on your browser or phone. Always log out of accounts once you have finished using them. And if you are having trouble remembering login credentials, rely on a password manager to organize them securely.
Today, the smartphone is an essential gateway to cyberspace, enabling users to enjoy and benefit from the many services the digital world offers. So, keeping it secure is imperative to ensure your data safety.
Be extra vigilant about loss and theft, and set up strong screen locks to block unauthorized access. Privacy screen protection is equally essential to ward off unwelcome intrusions.
As for cyber safety, updating software, installing virus protection, minimizing app usage, and opting for secure internet connections are a must. In addition, avoid unverified links, prevent your browser from tracking and saving your data, and keep your passwords safe without saving them on your smartphone or browser.