Our smartphones are perhaps the most personal devices we own. They're home to banking apps, work emails, texts with friends and families, pictures, videos and even health data. Whether you own an iPhone or Android, here's how to keep your personal device safe:
Apple phones, such as the iPhone 6s Plus, offer a user-friendly interface that makes tweaking security settings in iOS very easy.
Use an Alphanumeric Passcode - The default setting for iOS is a 4-6 digit passcode, which is fine for most people, but there is the option to change your pin to a longer password using both letters and numbers. While the iPhone is virtually impenetrable using PIN-cracking software, it's much easier for someone to look over your shoulder and remember four digits than 10+ random characters.
Delete Lock Screen Widgets - New to iOS 10, lock screen widgets are a convenient way to get snapshot looks at some of our favorite apps like social media, weather and sports scores. But some may give away personal information sitting on the insecure side of your passcode. While the widgets are convenient, they're accessible without a password, which means a thief would have no problem taking a peek.
Use Two-Factor Authentication - With data breaches constantly dominating the headlines, a simple password is no longer good enough in 2017. Two-factor authentication (TFA) combines a password with a random passcode sent via a text message or created in an app to grant a secure login. Using TFA ensures that even if a hacker steals your password, he can't access your information unless he also has access to your text messages. iCloud, Apple's cloud storage service, might be the most important place to use TFA as it can store your photos, videos, documents and app data.
Enable 'Find My iPhone' - Find My iPhone helps locate a lost phone on your computer or a friend's phone by using the GPS signal to show its location on a map and play a beeping sound so you can hear specifically where it was left behind. But while finding a lost phone is helpful, managing your lost phone's data before it falls into the wrong hands is priceless. If you already followed the steps above, there isn't much a phone thief should be able to do with your iPhone. But as an added layer of security, Find My iPhone can lock your phone and even wipe its data remotely. This is the perfect "dead man's switch" for phones containing personal and sensitive data.
Android is much more customizable, which is a double-edged sword. While the settings are more complex, it does give users a much more personalized level of privacy.
Encrypt Your Phone - Some Android phones are encrypted by default, but many are not. Chances are, if you sign in with a PIN then it is encrypted, but you can check by going into Settings > Security and making sure the box next to "Encrypt Phone" is checked.
Disable Google's Tracking - Google keeps a lot of information many consider sensitive and private - location history, Wi-Fi networks, search history, maps history and more. Disable this function by stepping into Settings > Backup & Reset > Backup. Keep in mind that you don't have to disable everything Google keeps, just the information you find personal.
Turn on Android Device Manager (ADM) - Similar to Find My iPhone, ADM manages any and all Android devices in your arsenal and helps you locate lost ones via GPS. But even more importantly, you can remotely lock or wipe information if it falls into the wrong hands.