It’s safe to say that people hold their whole lives in the palm of their hands in today’s age, in the form of a smartphone. These handy gadgets can do just about anything a computer can, and people take them wherever they go, even into the bathroom. With all of that time spent on phones, a lot of privacy concerns prop up.
It’s become vital that people protect their devices – and thus themselves. Here are some security tips to keep smartphones secure.
1. Set up a Screen Lock
It’s the most basic rule, but it still has to be mentioned because many people still don’t lock their phones. As simple as it is, setting up a screen lock is important if the phone gets lost or stolen. People think it won’t happen to them until it does.
Setting up a screen lock also prevents anyone from gaining access to the phone and installing spyware or stealing information. Hackers have been able to do this in the past while unsuspecting victims leave their phones out in the open. On tables in coffee shops, for instance.
While biometric locks (like fingerprint or facial recognition) are better, a pin or pattern lock works just as well. Just make sure to remember it!
2. Be Careful When Downloading Apps
Don’t just blindly trust an app because it’s available on a legitimate platform. Both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store have been plagued with serious malware apps for a while now. These apps look entirely legitimate but are made by unscrupulous hackers who use them to access people’s devices.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Look at the app’s name. Make sure it’s the correct name and not something that sounds similar to a legitimate, well-known app.
- Read the app reviews. Don’t just look at all of the 5-star reviews, as these may be fake. Look at the 1- and 2-star reviews.
- Check whether the developer responds to any reviews and what their responses are.
- Check out the developer. Click on the developer’s name to see the other apps they have designed. If necessary, do some research to check if they’re legitimate.
- Go through the app permissions carefully. Think about whether the app needs permission to access all of those things. If an app is asking for too many permissions, don’t install it.
- See when the app was published. If it’s a new app with a lot of downloads, it may be fake. Legitimate apps take time to become that popular.
3. Keep Apps and the Phone OS Updated
Developers release updates for a reason. Sure, these updates usually contain fixes for problems or new features, but they also often have security updates. As developers discover or are made aware of new vulnerabilities in their apps, they release patches to fix them.
When people don’t download these updates, it puts their devices at extreme risk. That’s because hackers are constantly on the lookout for ways to exploit vulnerabilities. Finding one in a popular (or even just moderately popular) app provides them with easy ways into people’s devices.
Updating apps as soon as possible is essential to avoid attacks. Especially because hackers are made aware of a vulnerability when a new security patch is released. So letting apps update automatically is often the best policy.
4. Install Additional Security Apps
There are a bunch of helpful security apps and tools that people can use to improve their safety. From the app or file encryption to password managers. For example, you can install a VPN. This is an encryption tool that hides all of your phone’s data from outsiders, and it’s especially useful if you connect to public wifi.
So be sure to look around and research some useful security tools to add another layer of protection to the phone, other apps, and online accounts.
5. Delete Unused Apps
Old or unused apps are potential security risks because updates are essential – and developers often abandon old projects. When an app stops receiving updates, it becomes a ticking time bomb.
It’s still better to delete an app when it’s not being used, even if it’s still receiving updates. Why take the chance of keeping something that could potentially let hackers in when it’s not necessary? So set up a reminder to go through the apps on a smartphone at least once a year and delete the unused ones.
People tend to think that cybersecurity is a complicated concept that they can’t learn themselves. The truth is, taking security precautions – especially on a smartphone – can be quite simple. And it is crucial to do so.
All it takes is a bit of patience, some common sense, and the dedication to form good security habits.