If you’re looking to up the security of your phone and browser, then check out these top tips and apps to consider downloading. Better safe than sorry.
Your phone holds a hell of a lot of your private data. From personal information like bank details to potentially embarrassing photos and more. There’s a lot on that little computer in your pocket that you’d rather the rest of the world couldn’t access. The thing is, with the way things are going, a lot of people can access your device – so it’s imperative that you take some measures to make it more secure.
Some of these are simple and obvious, while others take a little know-how. By following some simple instructions, your phone (and all the data stored on it) will be much more secure than the average Joe’s – making you an unattractive target for potential hackers and fraudsters. Let’s get into it.
The Very Simple
Let’s start with the basics. These are things that you can do in less than five minutes that will dramatically increase the security of your device. They’re so obvious that you’ve probably already incorporated them – although, some of them you may have overlooked.
PIN Lock: You’re probably now wondering if reading this was a good idea. Okay, we know you already have this – but it has to be stressed: if someone picks your phone up off the floor and it’s not locked then they have instant access to all the apps and accounts that you’ve left running, including your Facebook, your banking app, and your email. Get a six digit lock, and don’t just make it a bunch of zeros – the species that carried out the Manhattan Project is unsurprisingly effective at guessing lazy passcodes.
2-Step Verification: This one is also very simple, but a lot of people don’t do it – which is a problem. The thing is, if someone gets access to your email by guessing that password you haven’t changed since you were 14 (save for adding a 123 to the end of it) then they can use said email to go onto your Facebook and any other account you have, punch it in, click ‘forgot password’ and have a new one sent right to them. They’re in, you’re locked out. Oops. With 2-step verification you’ll have to sign put in a code sent to your phone before you can log in, so even if someone got ahold of your email password, they’d still be unable to get in.
It’s worth noting that this should be disabled when you travel abroad – if you can’t access your default phone number, then you won’t be able to sign in yourself.
Bluetooth: While the range of bluetooth is very short, meaning that the chances of ever being attacked via this means is comparatively low, it is still possible for a hacker to enter your device through it. Therefore, you should enter your bluetooth settings and set your phone to ‘non-discoverable’ which does exactly what it says on the tin. You can see them, but they can’t see you.
Entry Level Tech-Geek
Mobile Security App and VPN: You can download one of these on the Google Play Store and it’s worth going for a well-known developer like McAfee. Let’s take this app as an example – it allows you to set-up continuous tracking, so you always know where your phone is by visiting the McAfee website. It also allows you to search the web in safe-mode, which adds VPN configurations so that your browsing is encrypted with bank-grade protection, even when you’re on a public Wi-Fi. On top of this, you can hide sensitive photos and other media files in a PIN protected vault within the app. Your only concern is that John McAfee is looking through all your stuff from some fortress in the Amazon – no, not really, he doesn’t even work for the company anymore.
Other apps of the same nature also allow you to wipe data from your phone even when you’re not in possession of it – perfect for use if it gets stolen. Some even take a selfie every time someone tries to enter the PIN (these aren’t stored on your device, thank God).
Tips for Extra Protection
Always use protection.
Keep it updated: The more up-to-date your phone, the less likely it is to be compromised. This is especially true with iOS devices, which only allow software from the App Store to be installed and automatically remove anything that can’t be found there in the event of an update.
Use a VPN: Some security apps offer these for free – they’re very much worth the five minutes it takes to set up.
Don’t root / jailbreak: While this may seem like a clever thing to do and certainly does provide a level up in geekdom, rooting / jailbreaking a phone leaves it more susceptible to being attacked by hackers, spyware and malware. Only people who really know what they’re doing should even consider rooting / jailbreaking and since you’re reading this article, we’d safely assume that you’re not one of them.
Secure Messaging: This is especially useful for those in the corporate environment, or just for anyone who doesn’t want snooping eyes to read their messages. Telegram – one of the most secure messaging apps – will allow you to PIN protect conversations and send end-to-end encrypted messages that will self destruct after a designated time.
Watch out for app permissions: This is especially true when downloading APK packages, as they’re not verified in the Play Store and thus are more likely to contain spyware or malware. As a general rule, keep an eye on the terms and conditions and the permissions of any app. The more shady ones will often point out that they share your information with third-parties. Best to avoid them altogether.
Block trackers: Use a web browser like Firefox or Brave that allows you to block trackers from seeing the sites you visit and more. This is not only a good way to improve privacy, but also makes your browser run faster.
Look out for strange things: If you notice anything weird on your phone, like odd messages, interruptions in phone calls, and especially any software that you don’t remember installing. That could be the red flag of spyware. Search through your device and give anything unfamiliar the boot.
Common sense: As with most things in life, if you’re not reckless, then you’re less likely to fall prey to those with unfavorable intentions. Be careful what websites you use, think twice before downloading that free movie streaming app that wasn’t on Google Play, and put a bloody PIN on your phone.
We spend a large portion of our lives online and using our phones, by simply spending an hour to up the security of both your device and your browser, you can shield yourself from potential threats online. It’s worth doing, so give it a crack.