Desktops and laptops have long been major targets for viruses and other cyber attacks, but with the exponential growth and availability of mobile devices, new security threats are emerging. Though built-in kill switches (which have been mandated in some states, including California) help protect mobile devices from unauthorized use, and can even prevent crime from occurring in the first place, they aren't enough to fully safeguard against today's digital threats. For best results, you should be an active participant in your phone's security.
Mobile Security is Up to YouIf you want to ensure that your device isn't tampered with, corrupted, hacked, or manipulated in some other way, you'd do well to heed these tips and tricks.
1. Lock Your ScreenIt's true that thieves can't tell whether or not you've locked your screen until it's too late. Thus, locking your screen will not help prevent your phone from being stolen. Such is life: if someone is dead-set on stealing your phone, they likely will. However, locking your screen can help protect and safeguard your private and personal information. The average thief will be unable to bypass this simple and effective security device, which means in the unfortunate event that your phone is stolen, all you'll need to worry about is replacing it – and not whether your identity has been stolen or not.
2. Set Passwords and User PrivilegesJust as locking your screen can prevent individuals from accessing the contents within, so can setting passwords and user privileges for the various applications that you have installed. Android devices have many built-in security features which can help protect your phone from prying eyes – if you have an Android device, take advantage of these features! Advanced mobile processors like the Snapdragon from Qualcomm feature everything from kill switches to data encryptors, making it easier than ever to protect your devices.
3. Use Secured NetworksIf at all possible, limit your data usage when in public. If you are downloading data over the air or via an unsecured, public WiFi network, you leave yourself exposed to hackers. Should you need (or want) to use your phone anyway, consider limiting your use to such things as playing games or surfing the Web. Avoid tasks like online banking, E-commerce, and anything else that may expose your personal information. The best way to protect your device (and the information contained within, as well as in the cloud) is through a secure, password-protected WiFi network. If your home network is unsecured, you should fix that immediately.
4. Install Anti-virus SoftwareAnti-virus software isn't just for laptops and desktop computers. Quite the contrary; there are a multitude of anti-virus apps available for mobile devices (many of which are free) that can protect against malware, viruses, and hacking attempts. If you haven't yet installed an anti-virus app on your phone or tablet, it may be time to reconsider. In today's digital environment, your phone or tablet is the target – not your laptop. Can you say that you're fully prepared?
5. Only Download Apps from Trusted SourcesIt should go without saying that if you're downloading apps for your Android or Apple device, you should stick to reputable and trusted sources – iTunes, Google Play, or the App Store, for example. Don't download applications onto your phone or tablet directly from the Internet unless you can be assured that the application is safe. Which begs the question, how do you know the application is safe? Apps can and do carry malware. Don't take the risk of downloading an app that you're unsure of, particularly when so many good applications are available for free.
It's Time to Start Treating Your Mobile Devices SeriouslyMany of us have allowed ourselves to fall into a false sense of security when it comes to our mobile devices. We believe our tablets and smartphones are all but invulnerable, immune to attack. Increasingly, this is being proven false.
Taking the simple steps outlined above can go a long way towards securing your device from threats.
This is a post by guest blogger Jessica Oaks, Associate Editor over at FreshlyTechy. Jessica is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.