In Tips & Advice, Your Home

Mobile devices – such as smartphones and tablets – allow you to shop and bank online, keep in touch with friends and potentially control your home security from anywhere. Being such an important part of your digital life, keeping your mobile devices secure at all times is an essential task.

Knowing their importance, criminals will target mobile devices and their owners. They will use malware, phishing and network attacks, among other tactics to reach users.

Want to make sure your mobile devices are as safe as possible? Follow the recommendations below and reduce the possibility of falling victim to these threats.

Use a Strong PIN, Password or Biometrics

One of the most important steps is to enable automatic locking of the screen paired with a strong PIN (at least six digits), alphanumeric passcode or use of biometric features (fingerprint, facial recognition, etc.). If you lose the device or it is stolen, your data will be safer.

Apply Updates

Vendors release updates regularly for their systems and applications. Most of them are minor improvements, but some will fix important security holes. Your safest bet is to enable automatic updates. By always running the latest version, you’ll make it much harder for criminals to compromise your device.

Trusted Applications

When installing applications (also known as “apps”), do it from the official source. The official source is the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play Store for Android. Using any other source to install an app, will increase your chances of downloading malicious apps. When you choose an app, read the reviews and feedback. Pick those apps with better reviews and a higher number of downloads.

Privacy and Permissions

When installing an app, review what permissions are being requested1. Some apps will try to overreach, unnecessarily asking for access to all your contacts or tracking your location at all times. Allow the least access necessary for the app to function. You can also check your apps’ permissions2 once in a while to ensure settings haven’t changed over time.

Using Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

Free, public Wi-Fi networks are convenient, but not very secure. Criminals can spy on your traffic and intercept it or set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots. If you decide to connect to a public Wi-Fi network, limit your internet activity to trivial tasks. It’s fine to watch YouTube videos, but avoid login to your bank website. PRO TIP: Use a VPN for a more secure connection.

Keep a Recent Backup

Pictures and messages from your devices are sometimes stored in the cloud. All other information will be gone if your device gets damaged or lost. Follow recommended steps from vendors (Apple3 and Android4) to perform a backup of your device. Also make a backup before applying major updates. For example, updating from iOS v12.1 to 12.2 is considered a major update where updating from iOS v12.1.1 to 12.1.2 is not considered a major update.

Proper Disposal

The excitement of a new device shouldn’t distract you from properly disposing the old one. Plenty of sensitive data is stored in it: where you live and work, your contact details, phone call history. It might also have saved passwords for your bank, social media and email accounts. Before throwing it out or giving it to a family member, follow these steps to wipe all data: For Apple devices, go to Settings | General | Reset |Erase All Content and Settings. For Android, go to Settings | Privacy | Factory Data Reset. Presto!

1. https://www.wired.com/story/app-permissions/
2. https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-check-app-permissions-ios-android-macos-windows/
3. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203977
4. https://www.computerworld.com/article/3215095/how-to-back-up-android-phones-complete-guide.html

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