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Protect Yourself: 4 Ways to Secure Your Smartphone

protect-smartphone 

Cyberattacks against smartphone users are on the rise. Over a third of U.S. consumers experienced a cyberattack between 2015 and 2016, a Zogby Analytics survey found. Attacks especially targeted victims aged 18 to 24, as thieves sought access to sensitive personal and financial data stored online. Small businesses are also favorite targets of hackers, with cyberattacks aimed at smaller companies increasing from 18 percent of all attacks in 2011 to 43 percent in 2015, Symantec data shows.

For both consumers and small businesses, smartphone security is an urgent initiative. Here are four ways you can make your smartphone more secure:

Lock Your Device

Locking your device is the first step toward securing your smartphone. Failing to use your phone’s lock screen option is a common security mistake you should avoid. As a minimum, use a PIN or password to prevent unauthorized access to your phone. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid combinations that are easy to guess such as ABCD or 1234. Don’t save your password on your phone or leave it lying around on a piece of paper in an unsafe location. Set your device to wipe your phone’s data after too many failed password attempts.

You can strengthen your security by using biometric security features like fingerprint scanning, face recognition, iris scanning or voice recognition. You should also lock your SIM card if you use one.

Keep Your Security Updated

Keeping your security up-to-date is another cornerstone of smartphone security. Most victims of the recent wave of WannaCry ransomware attacks were relying on outdated operating systems. To avoid this problem, keep current on your security features.

More new cell phones tend to have stronger security features than older phones, so buying a new phone can be a step in the right direction. For instance, Android’s recent Nougat update was the biggest security upgrade that Google has rolled out for the platform so far. Keep your operating systems current. Set your apps and antivirus program to automatically install the latest updates.

Use Encryption

Encryption is another important line of defense against hackers. Employ encryption to protect yourself when connecting to the Internet from your smartphone by using a virtual private network (VPN) connection. Avoid connecting without encryption at public Wi-Fi hotspots, where hackers often lurk to intercept unprotected transmissions.

You can also use encryption to protect sensitive data stored on your device. On iPhones and most recent Androids, data is encrypted by default. You can check your phone’s encryption under your security settings. You should also encrypt sensitive data stored on SIM cards.

Have a Backup Plan

Your smartphone security plan should include a contingency plan in the event that your phone is lost or stolen. CNET recommends installing recovery apps that can find your phone’s GPS location and allow you to wipe your phone’s data remotely, such as Android’s Device Manager or the Find My iPhone app. If your phone is lost or stolen, report it to local law enforcement authorities, who will report it to a central database maintained by major wireless providers and the Federal Communications Commission. You should also notify your wireless provider.

Keep any important data on your smartphone backed up in another location, such as a secure cloud storage service. To protect your finances, consider signing up for an identity protection service.

Published Friday, September 29, 2017 1:26 PM by David Marshall
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