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Smartphones – The Universe In Our Hand (2 of 2)

Welcome back! Last week, we had briefly talked about first 6 simple steps to help us protect our smartphones from hackers and intruders. In case you haven’t read it already, please click here: Smartphones – The Universe In Our Hand Part 1

Let's now talk about other remaining steps.

7. Make sure your privacy settings are set appropriately on all social media.

While it is ok to use your real name on social media like Facebook and Twitter, avoid sharing a ton of revealing information about yourself on social networks. Avoid listing home towns, specific addresses, specific work locations, phone numbers, family names, and other details hackers can use to track you. These days, Facebook lets you conceal the vast portion of information about yourself with its privacy settings and tools, including most photos, friend lists, and more. Curate and streamline your feed to get rid of old, outdated information that may reveal more about you than you’d like.

8. Restrict the content on your phone

Don’t store personal information, documents or files on your phone, and limit the number of geotagged photos in your camera folder. Make a habit of keeping your phone relatively pristine by offloading images and documents to your computer, and eliminating confidential emails from financial, employer, and health-related accounts.

9. Implement Multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication such as 2FA is hated because it requires an extra step, and it is really a pain if you forget to have your phone or watch nearby. But like passwords, it serves a specific purpose by providing an extra layer of protection in case someone gets a hold of your password.

10. Beware of spam and phishing emails

One of the easiest ways for hackers to invade your phone and access your information is through your email inbox. Phishing scams are designed to trick you into handing over access to your accounts. Avoid clicking on links in promotional emails, opening suspicious attachments, or running app updates prompted through email. Do not try to access financial accounts through random emails, but instead, go directly to the financial institution website and sign in with a proper username and password.

11. Use smartphone’s built-in device protection

If your phone gets lost or stolen, you can contain the damage using device tracking services, such as ‘Find My iPhone’ and Android’s ‘Find My Device’, that can locate your missing phone on a map and in some cases, automatically erase the data within the phone. These services can also make your phone ring to help you locate a device you have temporarily misplaced. You can also arrange for the phone to delete all information after a set number of incorrect passcode tries. All these are amazingly effective and secure measures to protect your data and interest.

12. Use an Antivirus App

Hackers favour malware to steal passwords and account information. But you can combat that with various smartphone antivirus apps – some of which are offshoots of popular desktop apps like Avast, McAfee and Panda. The smartphone app variations provide enhanced security by ensuring apps, PDFs, images, and other files you download aren’t infected with malware before you open them.

13. Set appropriate App permissions

Check the apps on your phone to determine whether they have more privileges than they actually need. You can grant or deny permissions like access to the camera, microphone, your contacts, or your location. Keep track of which permissions you gave to your apps, and revoke permissions that are not needed.

For iPhones, go to Settings > Privacy, where you’ll see a list of all apps and the permissions you’ve granted to them.

The exact path to app permissions on an Android device depends on the device, but on a Google Pixel you’ll find them in Settings > Apps & notifications > Advanced > Permission manager

On a Samsung Galaxy mobile, look in Settings > Apps > App permissions (via the three vertical dots at the top right).

14. Set data back-up

Be prepared for the worst by making sure your phone is backed up to protect critical documents and images in case your phone is lost or stolen. You can back up your smartphones. At least that way, you can still access those precious photos or files. If your iPhone is backed up, you can program it to automatically wipe after consecutive unsuccessful passcode tries.

15. Install Apps only from known sources

For Android users, the best way to avoid malware is to stick with the selections available from the Google Play Store, which are vetted by Google. Similarly, download from Apple store for IOS. Never download apps via text messages, as that is an infamous method which hackers use to inject malware directly into your phones.

16. Avoid using public charging stations and ports

Only charge your phones on trusted USB ports like your computer or in your car. Criminals can hack public USB charging ports, like the ones you’d encounter in a coffee shop or an airport, to steal personal information. You would have heard about such cases. Bring your outlet adapter along in addition to your USB cable if you’re traveling. Hackers can’t access your phone data through your USB power adapter.

The Key Takeaways

If you follow simple steps mentioned in this and previous blog to protect your smartphone, you should feel pretty confident that you’ve done everything possible to shield your critical information from hackers and intruders.


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