PCs aren’t the only gadgets nowadays that pose a threat to cybercriminals.
Our smartphones also pose a risk – many of us use our phones for everything from online banking to even making payments using the likes of Apple Pay and Android pay.
All of our most important personal information can usually be found on our phones via password log-ins, emails, and texts. This has made phones a popular target for hackers.
Most modern mobile devices have in-built security measures that protect your phone, however, these aren’t always enough.
Here are just some of the ways in which you can ensure that your phone and your data is secure from outside threats.
Lock your phone
If your phone had a lock screen feature, make sure that this is enabled.
If the wrong person gets hold of your phone, they won’t be able to access your phone if it’s locked. Password and slide pattern locks are commonplace, whilst the newest phones also incorporate fingerprint scanning and even facial recognition.
Apple and Android phones allow you to have two levels of unlocking enabled, a password and fingerprint scanning, for maximum security – which is worth taking advantage of.
Some people turn their lock screen off out of convenience, but this can be dangerous if you forget to turn it back on and then lose your phone. Older phones may not have any form of lock screen – in these cases, you may be able to download an app that offers a lock screen feature.
Keep software updated
OS updates are important.
Whilst it can often seem like nothing has changed after an update, invisible changes are taking place – each update guards your phone against the latest threats. Without updating your phone, you could be perceptible to new viruses.
Most phones update themselves automatically. Make sure that automatic updates are enabled and that you don’t keep delaying the option to update.
Scan your phone for malware
Malware is malicious software that may seem legitimate on the surface, but may, in fact, be loaded with viruses that try to steal your data. The worst type of malware is ransomware, which may threaten to delete all your information until a ransom is paid.
Malware often takes the form of apps.
Newer apps tend to be the biggest threat – as soon as an app is discovered to contain malicious software it is usually removed from the app store.
If you’ve noticed that your phone is acting slowly or oddly, you may be able to scan it for malware to check that it isn’t infected. You may be able to use in-built tools to do this, however, its worth also having another anti-virus app installed as a backup.
You can find a list of reliable anti-virus apps here. Steer clear of newer lesser-known digital security apps as some of these could be malware in disguise.
Avoid clicking on dodgy links
You should also be careful of clicking on links from unknown sources.
These include texts and emails from people you don’t know or haven’t signed up to – any link provided may lead to a malicious website containing viruses.
Your phone may be able to automatically block such websites, however with new viruses constantly being developed, you can never be too careful.
Back up your data
In case you are infected with ransomware, it’s worth backing up your important data.
You may be able to do this via the cloud – most modern phones can automatically link up with the cloud, allowing you to access your data from another device if you are hacked.
Another option could be to back up files on another device such as your computer. You can usually do this with a USB cable. Transferring from some devices can be a little more difficult – you can find guides online such as this one on how to connect an android device to your mac.
Turn Bluetooth off when not in use
Getting hacked via Bluetooth is rare – two mobile users must be within a 10 meter range in order to use Bluetooth. It is however still a risk worth guarding against.
Hackers have been known to infiltrate phones via Bluetooth, access data and even listen in on calls. This is most common in busy places such as coffee shops, bars, trains, buses, and airports.
It’s wise to reject any unknown requests you may get. Turning off your Bluetooth when you don’t need it meanwhile can be the most effective solution.
Turn off geotagging when not in use
Geotagging can also pose a threat.
Your phone uses this feature to record information of your location – this information can be given out to sites and apps if you have allowed it.
Your photos will also all be geotagged so that someone looking at your photos can find out where exactly you took them (taken any pictures in your home? A hacker may be able to find out your address just from viewing photo information).
Geotagging is often automatically enabled, but you can turn it off. There are advantages to keeping it on, but if security is a priority you’re usually better off with it disabled.