It’s that time of year when, in the afterglow of the holiday season we start to play with all of our new toys.
For a lot of people that will mean breaking in their new mobile devices. But before you take your new smartphone out into the real world – and start downloading apps, streaming music and generally going nuts with your favorite new plaything – you should know how to protect yourself. That means keeping your device, and your data, secure. Here’s how.
- Lock It Up: Use a passcode to lock your device. In the event that it is lost or stolen, this basic level of defense will keep the average person from plugging into your personal life with all of the data stored on your phone with downloaded content, email and social media hubs. This is just a first line of defense, though, so don’t think it’s enough by itself.
- Minimize Risk: You shouldn’t be toting around a plethora of sensitive data on your phone in the first place. Sure, you might need to have a couple of documents on your phone at any given time, but it should not become a storage warehouse for sensitive information – personal or work-related – that you can’t afford to lose. That’s what hard drives and secure servers are for.
- Beware the Coffee-Shop Attack: Before you settle in for a morning cup of coffee and hook your smartphone up to the local public WiFi (this goes for hotels, airports and all public wireless connections), know the risks. These unsecured networks are a hacker’s dream, and there are lots of people who set up shop in these places just to hack devices in search of passwords and other sensitive information. Use data encryption services like VPNs and secure options for email and other applications. But in general, just avoid doing sensitive work on public networks.
- Practice Smart App Activity: You should only download apps from trusted sources (like the Apple App Store or the Google Play) that vet all of the programs they sell to ensure they aren’t malicious and have appropriate safety protocols. And even then, be wary of what permissions and access you give to certain apps. And just remember: Never download apps from unknown third parties – it’s the quickest route to losing control of your device.
- Consider Anti-Virus Programs: Mobile antivirus software isn’t very popular yet, and some platform providers (most notably Apple) insist that they aren’t necessary. But as malware becomes increasingly targeted at mobile devices, programs such as Kaspersky Mobile Security that protect your device are increasing in number and in relevance. Consider downloading one as an extra layer of defense.