If you ever lost your smartphone, you have probably been filled with anxiety and worry. It’s not a pleasant feeling. Our smartphones have become gateways into our lives, with contacts, pictures, social media, and financial information all packed into a pocket-sized device. While physically losing a device is stressful, having it hacked like a computer is almost worse. It is like someone broke into your house and stole your essential information. Good news is you there are steps you can take to help protect your device and information in the physical and digital realm.

Update, Update, Update

Updating your operating system (OS) and applications can be annoying. They always seem to come at inconvenient times and introduce new features that can be confusing to use. However, they also will often contain critical security patches and improvements. In the digital space, for every one person making systems more robust, move people are trying to break in. Updating your phone can help close avenues that digital thieves may have found to get into your device.

Don’t Use Public WiFi

Shopping centers and stores are offering public WiFi for their customer’s convenience, but public WiFi can be a breeding ground for all kinds of digital trouble. Thieves can set up their networks that look very similar to the public ones. Unsuspecting users can connect and essentially hand their digital traffic and logins to the thieves. There are also ways to exploit the Bluetooth on some phones. As a result, we recommend turning off these features when you can to help keep your device protected.

Put A Lock On Your Phone

Make your phone password or PIN protected. You also can set biometric locks if you do not want to enter a password or PIN each time. However, don’t forget your PIN or password because if your phone restarts you will have to enter it in one time to allow the biometrics to function. It is also a good idea to log out of any critical applications when not using them.

Two Factor Authentication (2FA)

Most people don’t like this because it adds an extra step to logging into an application or program. Ultimately, this is why 2FA is effective in protecting your logins. For example, if I were to try to login to your email from my desk, I wouldn’t be able to with 2FA turned on. Even if I had your password, 2FA would send a 6-digit code to your phone via text message. I would need to enter this code in to finish the sign-in and without I can’t access your email. More information about 2FA here.

Robust Passwords

A strong password is the oldest trick, but still very true. Never make your password something obvious, like a birthday or a pet name. The password should include a mixture of symbols, numbers, and lower/ uppercase letters. For example, if you were to set your password as ‘password,’ change it up like this: [email protected]$$w0Rd. This mixture makes it harder for your password to be hacked. Also, don’t use password as a password, that was just an easy example.

Also, most sites will have you fill out security questions when you set up your account. Never answer those answers honestly, it can make them easier to guess. If you set an item to ‘What is your favorite car?’ and your social media page is filled with a Mustang. A hacker wouldn’t have to work too hard to figure out the answer. Change up your answers for different sites.

Phishing & Spam

Beware of these emails that are sent to your inbox trying to trick you into logging in. They are getting more convincing by the day. Avoid clicking random links and NEVER sign in through a link in the email. If you have a feeling, your account has been compromised. Go to the app and follow the security steps. It will most likely involve an email, but it will be sent almost immediately after you initiate the process.

Built-In Protection

Turn on ‘Find My iPhone’ for Apple devices and ‘Find My Phone’ for Android devices. They can help locate your device on a map if you lose it. They also can erase your phone remotely so if you can’t get it back your information within it will be inaccessible. In addition, they can ping your device, making it ring to help you find it.

A/V For Your Device

Most of the antivirus companies that have programs for your computer also have them for your phone. These apps will ensure that apps, images, PDFs, and other download content to your phone aren’t laced with malware.

Application Permissions

Check to see if your applications are using more of your phone then they need. Companies love data, especially social media companies. Those free apps are usually paid for by harvesting your information and then selling it to all sorts of companies. You can limit what the application has access to on your phone without severely affecting the overall experience. These permission settings can be accessed in the app or phone settings.

Backup

As always, back your device up. Let’s face it; life happens, often when we least expect it. Backing your device up is the best way to ensure if anything happens to it, you will have your data backed up. Better to lose a weeks’ worth of new data than a years’ worth.

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