It’s difficult to think of anything that holds more personal information than your smartphone. Yet, few of us can honestly say we’ve never dropped it, or left it in a taxi or coffee shop. And when we do, the only thing safeguarding all that sensitive data is likely a four-digit passcode or a simple unlock pattern.
The good news is that there are some simple painless steps you can take to make your mobile safer. So what are they?
Use better passwords
Far too many passwords are too easy to guess: 1234 anyone? Picking something less obvious, and using different passwords for different accounts, makes them much harder to break. Even better, try the new Account Key feature on the new Yahoo Mail app, which does away with passwords altogether in favour of push notifications. That means you no longer need to remember your login details, removing the temptation to pick something easy to remember and therefore easy to crack.
Be wary of Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi may seem like mana from heaven, but think before you log on. Fraudsters often set up official sounding Wi-Fi networks – a name similar to the coffee shop you’re in for example - but you may get more than just a free connection. Fraudsters can use it to monitor the information you’re sending – log on to your internet banking and they could potentially steal that information. So you should only use public Wi-Fi if you’re confident the network is legitimate. Even then, it’s best not to send really sensitive information.
Plug leaky apps
You should only download apps from the app store as these are more trustworthy than the ones available elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean you should take it for granted that they’re safe. Read the reviews to make sure it’s credible and pay attention to what information it requests when you install it – does that new alarm clock app really need access to your camera, call logs, contacts and pretty much anything else on your phone? If you’re not comfortable, then don’t accept.
Think before you click
Maybe it’s because mobile viruses and malware are relatively new, or because smaller screens make it harder to see what you’re doing, but people are much more likely to click suspicious links on their phone than PC – one survey had it at three times more likely. So be wary of links sent from suspicious sources and, if you must click it, think twice before entering any personal details. And as always, if it’s promising you money or claiming you’ve won a lottery you never entered… well, you know where this is going.
Turn off automatic connections
When your phone is probing for networks, it’s giving off data (and wasting your battery life), so don’t wander around with your Wi-Fi connection turned on. It’s also a good idea to tell your phone to forget networks you no longer use to minimise the chances of it logging on without you realising. The same also goes for Bluetooth connections - it’s a great bit of tech, but it does leave the door open for fraudsters. Only pair with devices you recognise, and switch off when not in use.
So there you have it. With just a few simple steps – and a bit of common sense – you can make your phone much safer.