Our smartphones have liberated us to do everything on the go at any given moment. Unfortunately, fraudsters and hackers are tapping into some of our carefree behavior and snatching our vital information as we send an innocent text or quickly check an account online.
So how can you protect your financial and personal information on your mobile device and still enjoy conducting your business, correspondence, and leisure activities on your phone? With just a few easy strategies you can be safer and smarter with how you use your smart phone.
Free WiFi is great … for hackers! Look, we all think it’s great when our favorite coffee shop or hotel gives us free Internet access, but when you’re using it on your mobile device, your information could be vulnerable. As long as you’re on your carrier’s wireless connection, there will be a level of encryption protecting you. But if you switch to a WiFi network, beware. The better option would be to download a VPN (virtual private network) app on your phone, which will protect your wireless connections. Hotspot Shield is a popular one.
Keep your phone locked. Sure, it’s a hassle to have to type in a 4-digit number or put in your fingerprint every time you want to look at your phone, but the two-second step will protect your information in the event that you lose your phone or have it stolen. The last thing you want is for someone to be able to access all of your contact information, email, photos and more, just because you didn’t password-protect your phone.
Don’t leave your phone in plain sight. Along the lines of above, don’t assume that everyone who’s in your home is honest and forthright. For instance, you might have maintenance done on your boiler, or the cable guy stops by to install something, or your teenager invites friends over whom you haven’t met. Do you really trust these strangers enough to leave your phone lying around?
Watch what you say. We’ve come to grips with the idea that people have no problem having private conversations on their mobile phones in public – up to and including public transportation, restaurant restrooms, airports and other places. The point is, you never know who is standing next to you, so be extra careful if you’re giving your personal information over the phone to anyone.
Don’t miss any OS updates. While you might hesitate to download a software update right away because it might be buggy, keep in mind that it might also contain security fixes that address potential breaches. Having the latest version operating system and keeping your apps updated offers an added layer of protection that you might need.
Using your mobile device on the go is convenient, practical and fun. By following these steps, you can be sure that your information will remain right where it belongs – in your password-protected, encrypted and fully up-to-date smart phone that you no longer leave lying around.