One of my favorite pranks is to secretly take my friend’s phones and set the alarm to go off every morning at 3:30 am. If I have time, I usually pick the most obnoxious ringer available. While this might seem like an awful thing to do to a person, I view it as an important lesson.
The lesson is about security. If someone could get their hands on your phone to play a joke, imagine what would happen if that person was less scrupulous. One of the benefits of having a smartphone is the easy access it gives you to valuable information. Much of this is sensitive information like business records, online store access, bank accounts, or details about the surprise party you are planning for your wife.
Despite the risks involved, I often see people leaving their phone unattended on a restaurant table or the seat of their car. Would you leave your wallet on a bar while you are off at the bathroom?
Remember that a smartphone is a computer and is susceptible to the same security problems. Spam, viruses, malware, and phishing scams are a few examples. Security in the digital age is complicated, but there are a few easy things you can do to protect yourself from would-be bandits:
1. Password protect your phone. Most digital thievery is not done through sophisticated hacking. It’s done by physically accessing a computer or phone that is unprotected. If my friends had their phones locked, they would be sleeping a lot better at night, figuratively and literally.
2. Set your phone to automatically lock the screen after a few minutes of inactivity and require a password to unlock.
3. Encrypt your data. Most smart phones have encryption built in and there is third party software that works as well. If your phone is stolen or lost, this would prevent people from being able to access the files.
4. Check your phone bill for unusual charges. Some apps or malware could trick you into authorizing charges on your phone bill that you don’t know about.
5. Always check web addresses. When entering sensitive data into a web browser, make sure the web address is authentic. Scammers often send email posing as a major bank asking you to sign in for a secure message. Clicking the email link takes you to a site that looks like the bank, but once you enter your username and password, the scammers have everything they need to access your real account.
6. Install remote find & wipe software. Both iPhone and Android have software that will track your phone if it is stolen or lost and allow you to wipe out all the information remotely.
There is a lot more to know about digital security, but if you follow these six easy tips, hopefully the only noise your phone will be making at 3:30 am will be a call from the barn. Take your phone with you—it can be used as a flashlight.
- Additional Tips:
Consider security and antivirus software
Be careful when allowing third party unsigned applications to access your personal information
Do not click on links if unsolicited or suspicious
Update your phone’s operating system regularly
Avoid online banking on unsecured public Wi-Fi
Back up your data regularly
Reset your phone to factory settings before selling, giving, or recycling
Apply these tips to your desktop, laptop, and tablet computer as well
Title: 6 Easy Steps to Smartphone Security
Author: Dino Giacomazzi
Publication: Dairy Today
Publication Date: March 2012