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Simple Ways to Protect Your Mobile Browsing Data

While browsing on a computer or laptop, you are protected by virus and malware software and by a firewall. That software doesn't apply to your mobile device.

This is more than a little disconcerting considering that most of the time you spend on a smartphone you're connected to the internet. Think about how you spend your time. You're likely browsing social media, using mobile apps or on a web browser trying to find answers to a random question. All the while, you're seemingly unprotected.

Thousands of unscrupulous websites are out there with the potential to harm your device. How can you protect yourself? How can you protect your sensitive data and your smartphone from malicious code?

Protecting Yourself from Web-Based Threats

Anytime you're browsing the web, you may run into phishing links or compromised websites. Protecting your device from infection is a separate concern, but protecting your sensitive data is easy enough.

Before you do any shopping that requires submitting personal information, account numbers or even credit card info, make sure the URL starts with "HTTPS" instead of "HTTP." Why? The "HTTPS" address is encrypted and secure, so all information transferred via the connection is safe from prying eyes.

Avoid Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks and Turn Off Automatic Connections

Did you know that it's possible for someone to provide free, unsecured Wi-Fi and then monitor any incoming or outgoing information on that network? Someone who wanted to access their bank account on said network might be giving away their account info such as a login, a password and even a bank account number.

That's why it's best to avoid any unsecured Wi-Fi networks that you don't expressly trust. The scam can even happen on public networks that you might find at a local coffee shop or restaurant.

What makes it even worse is that some smartphones are designed to automatically connect to the first available network. This could mean that even though the phone is sitting in your pocket or handbag, it's still connecting to compromised networks as you travel. Find the automatic connection feature in your settings and turn it off.

Use a VPN to Browse the Web

A VPN - or virtual private network - allows you to connect remotely to a different IP address, so essentially it looks like you're connecting to the internet from somewhere else. How does it work exactly?

Every time you connect to the internet you're provided an IP address, which is like a home address for your computer. Anything you do on the internet can be traced back to that address, and often personal information is tied to it. A VPN masks your original IP address and gives you a new one, often located in a different state or country altogether. If someone pings your IP address, all they would see is the remote one.

If you want to be extra safe while browsing the web, different kinds of VPN apps are available.

Download a Mobile Security Application

There are plenty of mobile security applications - like virus apps - for your smartphone. Some examples are Lookout Mobile Security, Bullguard Mobile Security, McAfee WaveSecure and F-Secure Mobile.

Choose one that fits what you need and install it on your device. Scan your local storage regularly for potential threats and ensure that you practice safe browsing habits, which brings us to our next point.

Practice Safe Browsing Techniques

Keep in mind that practicing safe browsing techniques applies to much more than what you do in the web browser. For example, it also entails avoiding suspicious emails that you may receive from strangers or unknown addresses. Here the five top techniques to remember:

1. Look for phishing links by checking the URLs and content on a website. If something looks suspicious then it probably is. Avoid using alternate versions of websites and clicking on email links. If you want to log into Paypal on your phone, go to the actual website in your browser or open the app. The same holds true for any other service you may use on your phone.

2. Watch for the secured URL tag "HTTPS" to ensure that your connection is encrypted and secure.

3. Keep all your applications and the mobile OS for your phone up to date. Install updates as soon as they are available. They often include bug fixes for vulnerabilities and security flaws. Using an older version of an app may mean you're browsing on a vulnerable device.

4. Only download and install applications from trusted and official channels.

5. Avoid divulging any personal information in social media apps, messaging apps, text messages and browser windows.

As these tips prove, protecting your data might be necessary - but it doesn't have to be complicated.


Kayla Matthews is a tech-loving blogger who writes and edits Follow her on Twitter to read all of her latest posts!
Published Wednesday, October 07, 2015 6:28 AM by David Marshall
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