In today’s age of hack-attacks and mass surveillance, more and more people have started seeking out security. Since your device is constantly seeking to be connected to wireless internet, it is at risk from being compromised. Here are a few tips that you should consider in properly securing your smartphone.
Set a Lock Screen
This one may seem obvious, but it’s an important step in securing your phone, though it may be slightly inconvenient.
To set up a lock screen on Android, open your Settings menu, find Security and select Screen Lock. You have multiple options here; Slide is the default, and you don’t want that. Change it to Pattern, PIN or Password.
Certain Android phones even support features like Face Unlock or a fingerprint scanner. Please note that they’re relatively early in development and you would likely be better served using a password or a PIN.
To set up a lock screen on iPhone, open your Settings menu, find Passcode (Touch ID and Passcode on newer models) and make a selection from Passcode or Touch ID.
Touch ID is Apple’s fingerprint scanner – simply select “iPhone Unlock” under the Use Touch ID For menu and the system will walk you through the setup process. For Passcodes, you can either set a simple 4-digit PIN or uncheck Simple Passcode to use a full, proper password of your choice.
Keep Your Phone Software Updated
Another important one, though much simpler. On an Android, open Settings, About Phone and System Updates and your phone will automatically check for updates on your network. If you happen to be using an unlocked or jailbroken phone (that is, one not bought from a carrier), you’ll get faster updates, too, since they won’t be filtered by your carrier for what could be months before reaching your device.
On an iPhone, it’s much simpler. Open Settings and just select “Software Update.”
Apps may be insecure, too. On an iPhone, open the App Store and tap Updates on the bottom of the screen. If you’re using iOS 7, you can also enable Automatic Updates. If it isn’t enabled by default, open Settings, then iTunes and App Store and be sure that Updates is enabled beneath Automatic Downloads. Android apps update automatically.
So you don’t run into your phone slowing down at inconvenient times it is ultimately easier to instead get into the habit of looking at the App Store app itself to see how many need to be updated.
Encrypt Your Phone
If you’re an iPhone user, rejoice- Apple already had you covered as soon as you set a passcode. Android users have to go to Settings, then Security, and then select Encrypt phone, which will require a password or PIN to be set upon each powering up of the phone.
Set up a VPN
A VPN or Virtual Private Network is an external private network used to access the internet securely. Fortunately, even mobile users on public networks can make use of a VPN, since iOS and Android both natively support VPNs. The downside of using a VPN, however, is that it costs money. On Android, your best bet is Private Internet Access and on iOS, you’ll likely want to go for Express VPN.
Use Encrypted Communications
Again, there is good news for iPhone users. iMessage and FaceTime are already encrypted.
Otherwise, you’ll want to go elsewhere for your encrypted communication needs. Popular options include Wickr, TextSecure and ChatSecure, but you’ll want to use the application that your friends, coworkers, and family are using as well, since both parties need to be using the same encryption and encryption service for it to be of any use.
Don’t Save Passwords on Apps
In case you lose your smartphone or if it is stolen, you want to make sure the compromised device can’t be accessed. If you saved passwords on your apps, thieves and others can get into your private information. Especially keep this tip in mind for banking and other money management apps.
Keeping these mostly simple yet important tips in mind, you can be sure your smartphone is safe and secure.