Anti-virus protection can help defend computers from hackers, but what about smartphones? They have become increasingly vulnerable to the excitement of new apps and functions, are used more universally than ever before, and can be the perfect target for cyber criminals who want easy access to personal and financial information. For adults increasingly using their phones for personal financing and work, or teenagers potentially sharing sensitive information with friends, it’s imperative to protect smartphones from being the next piece of hacked equipment.
Keep Them Up to Date
Make it a priority to keep up with software updates. Android and iOS devices send out new updates when weaknesses are discovered in the software. This is also true of any app purchases and downloads. Update apps as soon as it becomes available to protect them from any flaws.
Use Passcode Lock
Many people disregard the use of a passcode when swiping right to get to the home screen of a smartphone. It seems too much of a hassle when trying to make a phone call or send a quick text. Both Apple and Android smartphones come with a four or six-digit passcode option. Opt for the six-digit passcode to create a tougher puzzle for hackers to solve, which may encourage them to give up before cracking the code. A passcode, although inconvenient, can increase the security on every phone.
Lock Screen Notifications
When downloading many apps, there is the option that asks permission to send notifications while the smartphone is locked. Some apps may give away private information when sending a notification. Emails, for example, send a notification when a new email is received. If engaged in a private conversation with work, the body of the email will be displayed on the lock screen giving potential hackers visibility.
Be Smarter About Public Wi-Fi Access
Free wifi when at the library, shopping, or sitting in a waiting room is great, but hackers on the same free network have plenty of ways to snoop. It is convenient to shop, bank, and post things online or while using apps. The drawback is that personal information is being sent out into cyberspace for hackers to find. Instead of hooking up to public wifi, create a virtual private network or VPN to encrypt the connection to the internet and make it difficult for hackers to find information.
Turn Off Bluetooth Connection
Bluetooth has helped many people become hands-free while driving, working, and exercising by allowing earpieces to be connected to smartphones. The Bluetooth feature can allow for file and bank transfers, sending messages, and providing information from a smartphone. Turn Bluetooth off when it’s not being used to protect hackers from accessing information.
Understand Find My Phone
Apple and Android smartphones offer a setting to find a phone if it becomes lost or stolen. When this app is turned on it can help locate a phone by using a map to temporarily lock or erase information from a smartphone. This app is especially helpful when traveling to guard sensitive information that may be stored on the phone.
Only Purchase Safe Apps
When downloading new apps, double check the source from which it’s being downloading. Third party vendors may not have to go through security checks in order to sell an app. While no vendor is 100 percent safe, downloading apps from the App Store, Google Play, or the Kindle Fire Store are the best bet in guaranteeing the app is safe to use.
Act On Warnings with Watches and Wristbands
The new wearable craze is all about watches and wristbands that can be connected through Bluetooth to any smartphone. The advanced technology in these devices will notify when the Bluetooth connection is lost due distance from a smartphone. This feature allows anyone to know when a phone isn’t nearby. If this happens, immediately call the phone from the wearable to locate the potentially stolen phone.
Kimberly Lewis is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University with a Bachelor’s Degree in education. She taught science at the Warren County Alternative School before choosing to continue her love of writing as a freelancer while at home raising her two children.
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