Important tips for smartphone security

Smartphone Security

We’ve heard all the following excuses, none of which justify your neglectful attitude toward your smartphone’s security:

● I tend to forget passwords
● It is a waste of time
● I don’t understand it
● I have not dealt with it yet
● I have nothing to hide

This is just the top of the huge iceberg. As cases of stolen data increase exponentially, cybersecurity becomes a top priority. Even if you believe you do not hold valuable information in your smartphone, think again. You have passwords for various accounts, contacts and their email addresses, private conversations, photos — so much data that could cause trouble and can be exploited if it falls into the wrong hands.

Tips to ensure your cybersecurity.

1. Lock Screen Password

According to the Pew Research survey, more than 25% of users do not use a screen lock to protect their phone. This means that one in four phones left unattended can be misused by anyone who gets their hands on the phone. Within a minute or less, someone can have your personal address, bank account details, pictures, and other sensitive information. Do you see how dangerous that is?

Not only is setting a lock screen password easy, but it is also the most basic safety measure against possible data theft. Admittedly, you will maybe lose two seconds of your precious time while unlocking your phone, but you could lose much more by leaving your device unlocked.

You could argue that the theft of smartphones is dropping, which is undeniably true. A study by Consumer Reports revealed that the theft of smartphones is plummeting because consumers now can shut down their phones and erase its memory remotely using the kill switch technology. However, in order to activate this remote wipe function, you need to have set a basic screen lock.

2. Staying Updated

It does not stop there. Your device’s security is not just about putting up a secret code to unlock the screen. Updating your phone is also important when it comes to mobile security. A large number of iPhone users eagerly await the next major update of iOS. Whenever your mobile core platform comes out with an operating system update, you have to rush to it instantly. The same is true with the updates of your applications.

There are various reasons behind app updates and security patches are one of them. If you do not update your apps, there is a risk that you will leave a loophole to be exploited.

Before grumbling that you do not have the time to check if an update is available, be aware that you can configure apps to automatically install updates on platforms such as Android. In other words, the user doesn’t have to worry every time there is an update available.

Just open the Play Store on your phone, go to the menu on the top left, then to “My games and applications”. Select an application and from its menu option (three points vertically in the top right), check the “Auto update” box. From now on, this application will download and install all updates automatically as they become available.

3. Unsecured Networks

Whenever you go to a restaurant, you see tables lined up with people carrying smartphones and laptops. Most of these users are connected to the restaurant’s Wi-Fi connection. And for the right reasons, why consume cellular data if you can enjoy a wireless connection for free?

Have you connected to a wireless network without using a password? If your answer is yes, be aware that you are passing on data over a connection that is prone to data theft. If you want to connect to an unsecured wireless network urgently, use at least one VPN solution. Even if you’re just posting to Facebook or browsing the web, do not use these networks without a VPN.

4. TFA (Two-Factor Authentication)

Let’s talk about TFA (Two-Factor Authentication), a layer of security which must be considered indispensable for all accounts that offer this service. Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, your bank, Google — if you can configure two-factor authentication on your sites and services, do it immediately.

So what actually is two-factor authentication? Without going into too much technical detail, let us explain what it is. TFA is a system that requires a second authentication password when you try to sign into a supported account. Either this password is sent to your smartphone in the form of a text, or it can be obtained with a tool such as Google Authenticator.

Therefore, if you have not set a screen lock by password, pattern, PIN or fingerprint, anyone can access these TFA secret codes. Once your phone is hacked, the risk of an individual stealing your identity or banking information increases dramatically.

5. The Several Layers of Security

Your security is in six layers (layer 1 being the most internal):

● Layer 1: operating system updates
● Layer 2: application updates
● Layer 3: network security
● Layer 4: applications with two-factor authentication
● Layer 5: application passwords
● Layer 6: lock screen

None of these layers should be ignored. Configure your screen lock, do not let your device remember passwords for critical applications. Add two-factor authentication for all sites and services that offer it. Connect only to secure networks (or at least use a VPN when you have no other choice than an unsecured Wi-Fi network), enable automatic application updates, and periodically check for the availability of an operating system update. Follow these tips and improve your smartphone’s security.

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