In today’s technology-immersed world, so much of our social lives, everyday tasks, and important information are located on our mobile devices. From taking business calls and texting with friends, to making financial transactions with mobile wallets and depositing checks through mobile banking apps, we rely so much on our phones in our everyday lives.
The amount of information we store on our phones to make these interactions and transactions possible means it’s more important than ever to secure your mobile device as much as possible and be aware of steps to take if it’s ever compromised. Here are a few tips to keep your phone safe from loss, unauthorized access, malware and spyware, as well as steps to take if you lose your phone and believe it’s been compromised.
Tips for keeping your phone secure
- Keep your phone physically safe. Like your wallet, always keep your phone near or on you when in public and be careful not to leave it unattended long enough to be compromised without you noticing.
- Password protect your device, files, and apps. Be sure to use a strong password, fingerprint or facial ID to access your device, and protect important files and apps within your device too. Folders, notes, and apps containing sensitive information should be gated with a passcode for an added layer of protection.
- Keep your phone updated. You know those pesky reminders to update your phone to the latest software system? Stop delaying the update and take care of it right away! Software updates come with more sophisticated security features, and they correct bugs in old security features to make your phone safer.
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links. Like with alerts or unsolicited messages you may receive on your computer, the suspicious links you receive through texts, pop-ups, and emails on your phone can lead to device compromise.
- Proceed with caution when answering calls from unknown numbers. If you don’t know the person calling, be cautious of providing any personal information.
- When in public, turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth until needed. Having wireless interfaces turned on increases your risk of being scanned, located, and attacked. If you must connect to Wi-Fi, select only known, secured networks, and avoid using it to make transactions or send important information, as it can be intersected and compromised.
- Back up your data regularly. If your phone is ever compromised, you should have your data safely saved elsewhere, so be sure to store your data in a couple places and back it up regularly.
Steps to take if your phone is compromised
If you lose your device, and/or notice suspicious activity on several accounts linked to the device, take the following steps to secure your data and minimize loss:
- Lock and wipe your phone remotely. Most devices come with tools to help find your phone, lock it until found, and completely wipe it remotely if you’re unable to recover it. Potentially having to wipe your phone remotely is the reason it’s important to regularly back up your data even when your phone is secure!
- Contact your cellular provider. Making them aware as soon as possible can help avoid any call, text, or data charges the fraudster tries to rack up.
- Change the passwords on accounts linked to your device. For any social media, banking, payment, or other accounts linked to your device, it’s important to change the credentials to keep the fraudster from gaining access, especially if you’re usually already logged into these accounts on your device.
With the number of social interactions and transactions that take place on our phones, it’s no wonder so many feel “lost without their phone.” As the overall time we tend to spend on our phones increases, so does the importance of securing our devices and knowing what steps to take if they’re ever compromised.