Smartphones are a symbol of modern times. Everyone has one or two and spends hours using them each day. While this pocket-sized device allows you staying connected anywhere you go, it can easily get you into trouble if you are not careful enough.
To get the most of your smartphone while keeping it safe from hackers is quite easy. You simply need to be aware of the most common security mistakes and avoiding making them.
If you recognize yourself in any of these examples, it may be a good time to fix your online habits.
- Not Locking Your Phone
With so much data residing on your phone, it is a dream target for cybercriminals who are constantly looking for new ways to invade your privacy. Therefore, setting a passcode and a PIN is the first thing you have to do once you get a new device. While this may sound obvious, you would be surprised how many people don’t lock their phones.
Now, there are a number of different methods to keep your phone safe from prying eyes: you can use fingerprint scans, a PIN code, a pattern or a good old password. All of these measures will do their job of protecting your phone from anyone looking for a sneak peek.
- Using a 4-digit Passcode
While having no lock screen protection is the worst, a 4 or 6-digit passcode also isn’t the best idea. Apparently, a passcode that is made of 4 or 6 digits would take from 13 minutes to 22 hours to crack, while guessing a 10-digit is way harder. Up to 25 years, to be precise.
So make your passcodes long and make sure to use letters, symbols, and numbers. Also, avoid “123456” or similar combinations as they are super-easy to guess. The same goes for all your accounts – the longer and the more complex your password is, the harder it will be for a hacker to crack it.
- Having Too Many Apps on Your Phone
There are tons of fun and useful apps out there, but do you really need them all? The thing is, the more apps you have on your phone, the riskier it gets. If you aren’t careful, you may install a rogue app that is aimed at tracking your activities, listening to your conversations, or even worse – infecting your device with nasty malware. Plus, apps use up your phone’s resources and interfere with its performance even when you aren’t using them.
So the best thing here is to keep your apps under control. Keep only what you really need and get rid of the apps you no longer use. Also, it may be a good idea to review your app permissions to make sure they aren’t silently tracking you. If your flashlight has access to your address book or microphone, it is a sign of malicious intent. Delete the app or at least disable suspicious permissions.
- Using Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks
The trouble with public Wi-Fi networks is that more often than not they are poorly secured. Therefore, connecting to them is extremely risky. It doesn’t take sophisticated hacking skills to intercept unprotected networks and see all the data travelling through them. So each time you connect your phone to a free WiFi hotspot, you put your data at risk of being stolen by cybercriminals.
Fortunately, you can count on a VPN to protect you on public WiFi. A Virtual Private Network allows you accessing the Internet safely and privately by encrypting your traffic and hiding your IP address. Some countries with strict censorship regulations disapprove the use of VPNs, but there are only a few places like that in the world. If for some reason you don’t want to use a VPN, the smartest thing for you to do is to use your mobile data.
- Postponing Software Updates
Keeping your phone updated is crucial to make sure it stays protected from malicious threats. Nevertheless, many users tend to postpone software updates thinking they will get back to them later. Don’t do that.
Updates are there for a good reason and installing them will help to keep your phone safe and sound. Updates are simply necessary for both efficiency and safety as they often bring patches for existing security vulnerabilities. So the best thing to do is to check for updates from time to time or enable automatic updates over Wi-Fi.