Smartphones have come a long way, so has the extent of security and privacy issues related to them. We are now increasingly dependent upon smartphones for more than just making that all-important call or send out that text.
smartphones have come a long way, so has the extent of security and privacy issues related to them. We are now increasingly dependent upon smartphones for more than just making that all-important call or send out that text.
Since you do so many things on it, the smartphones are very personal devices with a lot of personal data on them. This means they are also a massive privacy risk. Your data can be leaked by apps through internet or someone can have a glimpse of it while you are showing an interesting image to a friend on your phone.
So how can you minimise the privacy risk?
To tell you the truth, there is no such thing as 100 per cent privacy while using a smartphone. But, if you remember certain important tips and tricks, and follow them right, chances are that you could at least reach a 75 per cent, maybe more. And, that’s a significant margin in the online world.
Here are 10 key tips and tricks to improve smartphone security:
All important security pin/password/pattern anything
This is one of the most primary steps to ensure your smartphone is locked for anyone but you, at all times. However, as basic as it may seem, most people are too lazy to set it up. Setting up a screen lock is very important, as is setting it up right. Make sure your pin/password is not lame enough as say, a 1234 so that anyone can crack it in first go. At the same time, don’t make it so confusing that even you don’t remember it. It’s totally your call.
Ideally, you should select a combination of numbers and alphabets.
In addition, set your screen lock time somewhere between 1-5 minutes of non-use.
That said this is not a full-proof plan to secure your smartphone. Those with some technical know-how can unlock your phone in a few steps. But it’s the very basic that you could do, and so you must.
Every phone now has a free tracking/wiping service. Use it!
Every smartphone OS, whether it be Android, iOS, BlackBerry or Windows Phone comes with some kind of remote tracking and wiping tool. Android phones have what you call a Device Manager, while iPhones come with Find My iPhone and so on.
Essentially, these tools/services come into play when your phone is lost/misplaced or stolen. Using these tools, you can remotely lock, track, and even wipe your phone data using a computer and Internet. The trick here is to have these tools up and running on your smartphones at all times.
Download some kind of file lock app
There has to be something on your smartphone, whether it be a chat, a picture or anything for that matter, that you would want to save from prying eyes at all times, even from close ones. There may be some apps that you don’t want others using your phone to access.
A file lock app comes handy in such situations. There are many good ones available in app stores.
Download and install them, then password protect the data that you wish to hide. Only you or someone who has the password can then access them.
Set up a Guest Mode/Parental Lock on your phone
Android 5.0 Lollipop and iOS 8, the latest iterations from Google and Apple come with something called as Guest Mode. Basically, the trick is to restrict access to the content on your Android/iOS smartphone when you’re giving it to somebody.
Using the Guest Mode, you can create a separate user profile on your smartphone and assign it with the apps and content that you deem fit to be accessed by someone else. Once you have this profile up and running, next time you hand over your phone to someone you simply have to enable Guest Mode and he/she will gain access to this profile, hiding all the other stuff.
The normal profile will be password protected and cannot be accessed until it is typed in right.
Update your Smartphone software regularly
Software developers release periodic updates to their software, improving upon an already existing version. These improvements include security and stability updates as well.
Therefore, as and when updates (no matter how big or small) come up for your OS, for instance, make sure you update it, and have latest version running on your smartphone at all times.
It’s more important from a security point of view, since these updates may have some fix for some security issue that might be plaguing an earlier version. Also, software developers tend to push out fixes to security bugs (as and when something is detected) therefore it is highly advisable to update your phones periodically.
Beware of installing apps from untrusted sources
Android smartphones have something called an Unknown Sources option in security settings. Checking it allows you to install third-party apps from sources other than Google’s official Play Store. You don’t have such an option in the iPhone, and you need to jailbreak it if you want to install third-party apps.
Ideally, you mustn’t do either of these. Always install apps from trusted sources, meaning the Google Play Store and the iTunes Store. Apps therein meet the desired standards of official safety and security. Everything else is just calling for unnecessary trouble.
Keep your location settings in check
Every smartphone now comes with a built-in GPS or location tracking feature. Essentially, these keep your apps and services like
Google Maps and others live and active at all times. While, it may seem convenient to have your location settings open for such apps, even others like Facebook, Twitter etc, there may come a time when you don’t want others to know where you are.
But more than anything, you wouldn’t want your apps to know where you are, at all times. It is possible to individually allow/deny apps to ascertain your location. You can control your location settings, even shut it off completely.
Public Wi-Fi is dangerous, avoid it
Public Wi-Fi, or the Wi-Fi you get at places like some restaurant, coffee shop or whatever is the breeding ground for some of the most dangerous cyber attacks.
Miscreants who have good technical know-how tend to use these networks to push man in the middle attacks. Basically, using some cyber sorcery, hackers can gain access to your smartphone (in the event you’re connected to the public Wi-Fi network) and can do a lot many dangerous things, ranging from gaining your online passwords, to getting access to your confidential bank records. While you must refrain from using the smartphone for sensitive dealings, the truth is we are doing it a lot these days.
Therefore, the one way to ensure your security is to avoid public Wi-Fi networks.
Turn off Wi-Fi/Bluetooth when not in use
Many people have their Wi-Fi on at most times. As and when some Wi-Fi network becomes open, they like to have it up and running on their smartphone to save on their data charges. It’s not safe to do this.
Also, having your Bluetooth on when you don’t need it is also calling for trouble.
Hackers may use an available connection on your phone to access your files. Therefore, have these on only when you need to.
Backup your data
This is more the precautionary step in the event your smartphone does get lost or stolen. Have a backup of all your data/contacts/documents etc ready at all times. Ideally, you should have it in some physical drive, but saving it up in the cloud is also a handy option.