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10 Easy Ways To Secure Your Smartphone

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mobile-phone-security

One of the greatest threats to the security and privacy of the average individual is the now ubiquitous smart phone. Devices like the iPhone and the various available Android handsets have greatly improved our lives, making things like comparison shopping for free car insurance quotes online a snap. Unfortunately, they’ve also made it a trivial matter for hackers and malicious cyber-criminals to compromise your information. Here are ten easy ways to lock down your phone and protect yourself in the real world from day to day.

1. Know Your Apps

Some critics have made comparisons between the Android operating system and the Windows platform during its less secure days. While that analogy is a bit unfair, it’s true that Android has fewer safeguards against malware than the iOS platform. That having been said, iOS has seen a few bad apps make their way into the iTunes App Store. Before you download and install an application, do some research and read the reviews that other users have submitted to make sure you’re not getting a virus sandwich.

2. Password Protection

Using a simple finger swipe to unlock a smart phone is the most common method for gaining access to a device. If your device isn’t password protected, all you have to do is lose it in a public place for all of your data to be lost to would-be thieves. At the very least, enable the password to unlock function that’s built into your phone. A simple PIN or password will go a long way in protecting you from identity theft and data loss.

3. Use The Security You Have

Just about every smart phone on the market today features advanced security features above and beyond simple password-enabled screen lockers. Things like biometric fingerprint scanners now come standard on many phones, and such measures ensure that your phone is that much harder to access if it should fall into the wrong hands. When you get a new phone, acquaint yourself with all of the stock security features that ship with it and use them regularly.

4. Permissions, Permissions, Permissions

Those familiar with Unix-like operating systems like Linux and Mac OS X will no doubt be highly aware of permissions and how they can affect the security of your mobile device. More specifically, you should look at every application you download and review what data and resources they have need to have access to for them to operate properly. Anything that requires root access to your phone should be avoided. Anytime you’re asked for personal information or a password, that’s typically a bad sign.

5. Go Easy With The GPS

Location-aware applications like Foursquare and Gowalla allow users to “check in” when they’re at specific places to facilitate sharing. While GPS-based applications can significantly enhance your life, it’s also a double-edged sword that can threaten your security. If people can see where you are, they can make assumptions about where you aren’t. Thieves can easily use social platforms like Facebook and information from GPS-based apps to plan home invasions and robberies.

6. Watch Those Financial Transactions

Probably the last thing you should do when you’re out in public is use unfamiliar computers to do your banking online. Keyloggers and malware can easily steal your credentials if you’re not careful. Second to that in terms of security threats is banking online with your smart phone on public Wi-Fi. You can reduce the danger somewhat with VPNs, although it’s best to leave your online financial transactions to your home computer where you can guarantee a safe connection.

7. Stay Up To Date

As with any operating system, the installation of iOS, Blackberry OS, or Android running on your smart phone is constantly being poked at and tested by hackers trying to exploit vulnerabilities. Modern computer security is all about patching vulnerabilities the second they’re recognized, and as such it’s essentially a game of catch up between security experts and cyber-criminals. When a security update is available for your phone’s operating system, you should install it ASAP.

8. Secure Wi-Fi

You should probably turn off the auto-connect feature for Wi-Fi access on your smart phone. Public Wi-Fi hotspots such as those found at libraries and coffee shops are a security minefield for notebook PCs and mobile devices. Everything from ARP spoofing to the use of Firesheep can allow miscreants and ne’er-do-wells to hijack your communications without you even realizing it. If you need to use public Wi-Fi, utilize a VPN or a proxy to connect to the web over an encrypted SSL connection. Using Wi-Fi through your home gateway is of course typically safe if you can’t get a 3G or 4G signal.

9. Monitor Applications Proactively

You can learn a lot about security threats to your mobile operating system by looking at resource usage. If you notice your battery losing power more quickly than it used to all of a sudden, it’s often a sign that you have a malware program installed that you don’t know about. If your phone is sluggish or unresponsive, look at CPU and memory usage for each application that’s currently running to see if anything stands out. If one program is hogging all of your phone’s resources, you may want to ditch it.

10. Mobile Security Apps

Your smart phone is essentially a small hand-held computer, with all the benefits and drawbacks that come with the territory. Much like Windows in the 90’s or now for that matter, it’s going to be a magnet for viruses. That’s why a dedicated anti-virus application is a must. Commonly used services include F-Secure Mobile Security, Lookout Security & Antivirus, and McAfee WaveSecure. As long as you have something that’s working around the clock to ward off threats, you’re far better off than a user without any security software whatsoever.

Parting Shot

While the world of mobile devices can greatly enhance your productivity and the convenience of your communications, it can also be a nightmare in terms of security. If you follow the above tips and take a moment to shore up your defenses, you’ll greatly reduce the risk of a security breach. This information isn’t meant to scare you but rather to alert you to the potential dangers of smart phones from a safety standpoint. Just be careful when you’re out and about and you should be fine.


By

Vikram from snakebytez.com is a professional blogger and writes about a wide variety of topics, including Technology, SEO, Social media, Blogging, Gadgets, etc. Follow him on Twitter @snakebytez

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    22 Comments

    • Guppu Boss @ InternetDreamz

      VERY NICE TIPS WILL SURELY IMPLEMENT TO SECURE MY IPHONE

    • brian@pp woven bag

      i have only tried iphone,the smart phone is good,anti theft,track thief.
      and a few other software,like blocking some unwanted phone,install anti virus software.

    • eric

      i always put my wifi off,and and scanning my fon on a regular basis makes me feel safe as there are many frauds these hackers are doing thro android

    • Deborah

      What a brilliant post! Than k you for sharing this article. I had just come across how even Twitter claimed that it maintains your iPhone's contact list. Will tweet this one out. cheers 🙂

    • RiverEdge Dental

      Great article. I think people underestimate the importance of securing their mobile data.

    • sai@Way4Geeks

      wow ! really awesome explanation Vikram . very helpful to secure my smart phone .. thanks for sahre 🙂

    • rohit kothari@techotalk

      h vikram bro,
      very useful and informative post as now a days security in phone is nessearcy becuase of today culuture god know when your phone get misused or your private msg or picture get leaked.and we should avoid installing un-know apps

    • Karthik

      how can i safeguard only few of my photos and messsages on the phone?

    • Denial@local trucking jobs

      As use of smart phones is increasing for financial transactions, it is very important to give security the top priority. But everyone wants transactions within few seconds to happen they tend to forget about security. Even I am one of them. But you have made me realize this through your post. Your suggestion of making use of PC for such transactions is proper. You are right this would help in a secured transaction. Thanks for the tips!

    • Theo Magen@flowers nyc

      Getting interesting apps for the phone is the trend. Even I like getting them and using them. But I do this in secured way for my phone. Regularly updating the security apps in phones and taking precautionary steps while connected to Wi-Fi are some of the little steps towards securing your smart phones and it is always better to be secured in advance rather than getting shock later. Your post has given perfect tips to follow this.

    • Marshall Miller@fund management system

      Have just registered my phone with Find My Phone. I have also secured my Wi Fi. Thanks for this article is very helpful and seems like one that will most definitely help users to prevent their phones from being robbed. I have already lost phones in the past and do not want something similar to happen to my i-phone that cost me a bomb of my savings.

    • Jasmine

      It is very important to secure your smartphone, especially if you keep a lot of important data or information in the phone.

      • Singjon Tan

        You're right Jasmine and I've found this tips really valuable and applicable to tighten up our smartphone's security.

    • Renny@dentist toronto

      As companies are introducing more and more interesting applications for smart phones, they are also bringing our mobiles more closer to the attackers. I like using applications for my Blackberry. Also I like doing my financial transactions with my mobile as it comes on tip of my finger. But as you have mentioned in this post that, it is better to make all the financial transactions from PC. I have made commitment with myself to follow this. I am not going to risk my business for my likes. Thanks for the post!

    • Mike | Goa Resorts

      Oh nice tips to protect your smartphone i will most prefer # 7 Stay Up To Date and #8 Secure Wi-Fi these two point which are good to use for security purpose.

    • Adeline

      Quite an exhaustive post Vikram. If you own an iPhone, getting registered with Find my Phone service will also be a wise idea.

    • Levi Nash

      The best way to secure your phone is to set a security password and let no one knows it except you or any trusted person. Some phones has feature for voice recognition and it's really good.

    • Sam@custom name badges

      Smart phones are the easy target for attackers today. As more than half of the population uses smart phones it becomes very easy for attackers to find targets. I am very possessive of my cell phone. I always update my security apps in cell phone. By doing this I get a feeling of being secured. But there's always a feeling of insecurity in bottom of my heart. After reading your post I have got some of the useful tips which can make me relieved a bit. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sandeep Singh

      Good article mate ! There are tons of apps for security which are really good. Every smartphone user must have some of it for securing his phone.

      • Vikram

        Right, for mobile devices personal information like passwords must be protected and backed up from time to time. Phones can be stolen or lost and further data can be misused. Those who have been through this know well 😐

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