Many of us are careless about our smartphone security. We may be careful in handling our phones and ensuring they’re never out of our sight, but clueless about how to block entry into the phone and prevent malicious elements from gaining access to personal data.
The fact is, smartphone attacks have been on the rise, and security firms have cautioned users to safeguard their mobile devices with the right measures. A recent report also indicates that Android phones are particularly vulnerable to attacks, with 99% of all malware last year targeted at devices running on this open-source system.
Don’t put off smartphone security measures for later. Check out these four simple ways to keep your phone secure.
1. Always enable password protection
A basic precaution, but one that few follow rigorously, password protection is perhaps the strongest defense against smartphone attacks.
iOs: If your phone is running on iOS4 or higher versions, you can set a password. For earlier versions, you have no choice but to use a less-secure passcode. Follow password creation best practices (a) difficult to guess (b) longer with a mix of letters and numbers (c) unique, i.e not the same as your FB or Gmail password. Get started with Settings →General→Password Lock.
Android: Android phones offer swipe patterns as a security feature. Set a complex pattern that cannot be guessed easily, but one that you can remember! Start with Settings→Security→Change Unlock Pattern. If your phone is running on Android 2.2, you can opt for a password or PIN.
Windows Phone 7: You can set a lockscreen password on your Windows phone. Go to Application List→Settings→Lock&Wallpaper. Turn on the Password option, enter a password and save your changes.
2. Avoid missing OS updates
Vulnerability patches included in OS updates effectively safeguard your phone against new attacks. Some users prefer to automatically install updates – you can consider this option if you suspect you will miss the updates. You can also disable this option and instead, be notified of updates to understand the new changes, and then install them.
3. Install apps with care
Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store go the extra mile to address security. Apps that raise security concerns after release are immediately withdrawn. Still, there is a narrow window for security lapses, so it’s best to read user reviews to make an informed choice. With latest reports calling the super-popular Candy Crush Saga one of the leakiest apps posing privacy issues, it is better to be safe than sorry.
4. Turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC when not in use
Wi-Fi is a boon, but it is not without its security risks. The very fact that it releases information about your location and identity makes it a potential target for man-in-the-middle attacks. In this case, the malicious entity sets up a rogue Wi-Fi with an SSID similar to yours, in an attempt to connect with your phone and transfer data through it. Here, the entity intercepts data transferred between you and a friend, and confuses you into thinking everything is fine when in fact, the attacker is controlling the conversation.
Turn on bluetooth and NFC only when you want to pair your phone with another for a purpose. By making your phone discoverable all the time, you leave the door open for malicious elements.
Have more smartphone security tips to share? Write to us today.