These days, we use our phones for everything. Whether we’re using them to chat with our friends, as an alarm clock to wake us up in the morning, or as a GPS system to show us where we need to turn next, our phones are with us 24/7.
This can be convenient, but our phone’s data can also be used against us. Zero-day vulnerabilities and phishing tactics can enable hackers to access and steal your information for their own personal gain.
While cybersecurity solutions from companies like Avast and Kaspersky can offer one line of mobile defense, there are a variety of ways to keep your information safe.
To secure your data, check out our mobile security tips below.
Update your operating system
One of the most effective mobile security habits is to regularly update your phone’s operating system (OS). After all, for both iOS and Android security threats are found every year. While there’s no such thing as an impenetrable OS, updates help smartphone companies to fill in any security gaps naturally found over time.
A smart practice would be to enable automatic updates on your device (assuming it isn’t already enabled). Something to keep in mind, however, is that Android devices don’t always feature the latest updates. For Androids, updates are only guaranteed for two years after the phone’s release. If your Android is more than a couple of years old and is no longer receiving updates, it might be time to get a new device altogether.
While updates are helpful to keep your phone secure, make sure to backup your iPhone or Android regularly. There are simple tools to help you transfer and manage your phone content to ensure that you always have access to your important information.
Set strong passwords
A four-digit iPhone passcode is far from the best way to keep your data secure. Whether you have an iPhone or an Android, you’ll want to set a strong password to prevent your data from falling into the wrong hands.
The shorter and simpler your password is, the easier it is for criminals to crack. In contrast, to create a complex, strong password, here are some tips:
- Use a Minimum of 12 Characters: The longer your password, the better. So long as your password is a minimum of 12 characters, it’s likely complex enough to keep your data safe.
- Use Numbers and Symbols: Vary up the types of characters with numbers and other symbols to make your password less predictable.
- Avoid Common Words or Phrases: Avoid passwords like “12345” and “password” at all costs. Instead, think of a unique password and use words unrelated to the topic of the platform you’re logging into.
Be cautious about public Wi-Fi
While free public Wi-Fi networks can seem convenient when you’re waiting in line at a coffee shop or sitting in a hotel lobby, they’re also a security risk. Some potential threats of public Wi-Fi include:
- Evil Twin Attacks: This type of attack occurs when someone is masquerading as a credible public Wi-Fi service. When you connect to their network, your internet will work, but your online activity becomes compromised.
- Packet sniffing: Packet sniffing is a method used by cybercriminals to analyze your web traffic and steal your information.
- Man-in-the-Middle Attacks: In this type of attack, a third party intercepts information between you and your Wi-Fi connection. From there, the hacker gains access to your online activity, including any usernames and passwords you type out in a session.
While VPNs can be a great defense against these types of attacks, the best way to protect yourself is to abstain from public Wi-Fi use altogether.
But Wi-Fi isn’t the only place where hackers lurk. Pegasus Spyware is a type of cyber threat known to infect phones through messaging apps such as WhatsApp and iMessage. Accordingly, it’s crucial to avoid clicking suspicious links or interacting with strangers online.
Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is a security measure that requires you to provide two forms of authentication to verify your identity. This could mean, for example, that if you were logging into your bank app, after typing your password you’d also be required to type in a code sent to your email.
Enabling two-factor authentication is particularly important for mobile apps with your financial information. Sometimes passwords get leaked in unavoidable data breaches. In a situation where that happens to you, two-factor authentication can be a lifesaver. That said, if you ever find out that someone knows your login information, change your password as soon as possible.
The average person stores an abundance of personal information on their smartphone. To avoid having that information compromised, it’s important to set strong passwords, avoid public Wi-Fi, and make use of two-factor authentication when possible.
Another factor that impacts your level of mobile security is the type of OS your phone uses. Between Android and iOS, they each have their own security strengths and weaknesses. To find out more about which OS is safer overall, the folks at Clario have provided the infographic below.