Smart Phones are called 'smart' because they contain, or can connect you to, more data than traditional mobile devices. Unfortunately, this also means new avenues for cybercriminals to capture and exploit your personal and financial information. Following mobile security best practices can help you avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime. The following are best practices to keep your mobile devices secure:
Lock the device with a password or Personal Identification Number (PIN). While most mobile devices now contain password / PIN lock options, they are not always on by default. Also, if your device has an auto-lock timer (to place it into locked mode after a period of time), use it. Activating this security measure can help you avoid problems, in case of loss or theft of your mobile device.
Back up your data. Data stored locally on a device can be handy, but if the device is lost or damaged, you could lose it all. The most simple solution is to back the data up to another hard drive, or to the cloud. Apple iTunes includes good options for iOS-powered devices. Other device types either have back-up utilities built in, or third parties can provide software facilitating backups.
Keep your system updated. Software updates often include security upgrades that close newly-discovered vulnerabilities. Whenever prompted, update your system. This will keep you more secure, and often improve the performance and functionality of your mobile device.
Do not hack (jail-break) your device. Hacking or ‘jail-breaking’ a device to free it from the limitations set by a provider can leave you more vulnerable to intrusion. A hacked device typically loosens controls over what kinds of apps it can run. Unfortunately, this can also make it easier to be exploited by hackers.
Remember to log out of banking and shopping sites. After banking or shopping, log yourself out instead of just closing the browser. While most sites of this type will automatically log you out after an idle period, it is a best practice to take the time to manually log out. Also, you should bank or shop with a mobile device only while on a secure Wi-Fi connection – not an open connection shared by other users, such as those found in cafes and airports.
Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth services when not in use. Cybercriminals often look for unsecured devices using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals. One easy way to prevent this kind of intrusion is to turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth transmitter. If you are away from home and do not require a data intensive connection for activities like streaming video, rely on your mobile phone data plan connection for light surfing.
Avoid sending personal information via Text or Email. A text claiming to be from your bank or an online store may not be what it appears. This is a common practice of cybercriminals. Instead of replying with any personal information, take your response offline, and contact the business directly to confirm the message’s authenticity, and answer any questions. Similarly, sending personal information via email is ill-advised, as a copy of this data would be stored in your Sent folder, and possibly placed in the wrong hands if the device is lost.
Be careful what you click. Internet best practices, whether on a mobile device or a PC, remain the same. Links and attachments in any unsolicited email should be treated as suspicious, even if the message appears to be coming from someone you know. Be especially wary of shortened URLs or QR codes, as these give no hint as to their actual destination (as the URL is hidden).
Install a Mobile Security App. Cybercriminals are relentlessly working on the creation of malware to uncover your valuable digital assets. Mobile Security software much like Anti-Virus software on your personal computer is a critical component in your defense against becoming a victim.
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