Mobile phones have become as powerful as PCs and with this comes unpleasant side-effects, such as vulnerability. With all the power inside a mobile, it is easy to hack it, if the owner hasn’t taken the necessary measures to protect it. Nobody wants to be a victim of mobile hackers or theft so you need to make sure you secure your mobile. Here are some vital suggestions how to do it.
Use a Hard to Guess PIN
Your PIN is the first barrier to unauthorized access. Your first task when you get a new device is to change the default PIN. Similarly to passwords, there are simple PINs and PINs that are hard to guess. Simple PINs are for example these 1234, 0000, your birthday, etc. Hard to guess PINs include non-repetitive (i.e. no two zeros, ones, etc.), non-consecutive numbers because this makes it harder to guess. Also, it won’t hurt if you change your PIN a couple of times a year. Like with passwords, the longer the better as well.
Android users have a variety of ways to add security to their screen lock including a pattern, face unlock, PIN and password options. I prefer using the pattern lock as it’s an easier for me to remember but at the same time difficult for others to guess. If you do choose this option then make sure to make it a relatively obscure pattern.
Set a Password to Protect Your Data
In addition to a secure PIN, when possible use passwords to protect your data. As with PINs, don’t regard this as a formality but pick hard to guess passwords and change them frequently. This applies to everything from email accounts, registering for apps, social networks and more. I like to choose a combination of letters & numbers. For more tips on choosing a password check out this list from Microsoft. They also have a password strength tool to test how secure your password is.
Don’t Use Unsecured Hotspots
Unsecured hotspots are a huge security risk. You not only risk unauthorized access to your data, but you can easily catch all sorts of viruses and other malware. When you use unsecured hotspots that transmit your data in plain text over the Internet, criminals can capture data in transit, such as passwords or credit card numbers. These can later be used to break into your email or make purchases with your credit card. This is why you need to be extremely cautious when you use public wireless.
Regularly Install Patches and Updates
With all the software loaded on your mobile, there is a lot to be patched and updated. If the operating system and the applications have an option to auto-update, you might want to check it, especially if you are on an unlimited Internet plan but be warned that these updates can eat huge amounts of bandwidth. Use a secure, home Wi-Fi network or plug in to your computer to update your device.
Because of this, you might want to opt for manual updates. This is more time-consuming but it gives you more control over what you install. In any case, don’t leave your mobile unupdated because this is an open door to hackers.
Be Very Cautious When You Download and Install Apps
Similarly to PCs, infected applications are the major way to get viruses, worms, spyware, keyloggers, and all other nasties that exist online. Never install applications from a source you don’t trust. It is best if you get your applications only from the authorized stores for your mobile model and operating system but even this isn’t an absolute guarantee these applications are clean.
Run an Antivirus
No matter how careful you are in your choice of applications to install, the risk of viruses is always present. This is why there is no excuse for not running an antivirus, or even better – an antimalware – program on your mobile. Many of the popular antivirus programs for PC have mobile versions (and some of them are free). For instance, these are some good antivirus apps for Android.
Some of the applications on the list have versions for iPhone, Windows devices, and BlackBerries. Of course, you won’t be able to get these from an Android store, so check the stores for your OS, or visit the site of the developer of the program and check if they have it for your OS.
After you download and install an antivirus program, don’t forget to update the virus definitions frequently because otherwise you are not getting protection against the newest pests.
Backup Is Your Best Friend
Even if you manage to keep your mobile clean from malware and other pests, this still doesn’t guarantee your information is intact. Very often something goes wrong with the phone, or you lose it and in this case all your information is gone. To prevent loss of data, regularly backup everything you have on the phone and keep the backup in a safe place. For Android users, Google Play offers a decent amount of good backup applications. The stores for other platforms also offer a lot, so check them and get the backup application of your choice.
These steps are just the beginning. Even if you follow them religiously, you can never be sure your mobile is secure but if you disregard them, it is just a matter of time you become a victim to mobile hackers.