Which scenario scares you more: a thief making off with your phone or with a week’s worth of cash?
Chances are the thought of losing control and access to your phone is at least as upsetting as the thought of losing a week’s pay and with good reason. Most of us are walking around with the equivalent of a file cabinet full of personal information. A phone is a portal to so much sensitive information, likely including banking information, personal emails, photos, and confidential health information. So it makes sense to do everything you can to keep your phone, tablet, and other mobile devices safe—and that means more than securing a device physically because even if the device never leaves your hands, hackers have plenty of ways to steal information from it.
Here are some tips to help you stay secure:
Be smart with passwords
Yes, remembering lots of different passwords for countless accounts seems a tiresome task, but resist the temptation to use the same password for different accounts, and never reuse your main email password.
Use secure passwords, and never use the name of your child or pet, your birthday, or other easily guessable information. Security experts suggest you come up with a system so that a password that appears to be gibberish to others makes perfect sense to you and is easy for you to remember. Some of the methods often recommended including using a short phrase, not a word; having a set pattern of using upper and lower case, such as every other word; choosing a phrase but turning it into an acronym, such as changing “Mary enjoys walking her dog” to “MeWhD;” and incorporating numbers and symbols into the phrase according to your set plan. You might use part of a friend’s address and render part of it as symbols. So if your friend lives at 973 Elm Street, you might use the first two digits as they are, “97” and render the “3” by using the symbol on a qwerty keyboard that corresponds to that number—in this case, #. This gives you MeWhD97# so far. You can even incorporate the name of the account into your password, such as MeWhD97#Ya for a Yahoo account. It appears random to anyone else, but not to you. Longer passwords are safer passwords. And once you have your long, complicated, safe passwords, don’t ruin things by letting browsers remember them.
Use antivirus software
You probably already do this for your computer, but what about your phone and tablet? Various apps are available for your particular type of device.
Look out for phishing
Don’t click on a link if you don’t trust the source. Even if an email appears to be from a friend or a business you trust, take extra steps. If it’s not a link you were expecting to receive, don’t click without checking first. Beware of impersonators.
Lock down social media
Don’t make a gift of all your personal information to hackers. The more they know about you, the easier it is for them to guess your passwords and to send you emails customized to your personal interests in order to tempt you to click. Do not accept social media requests from people you don’t know, and don’t over share on social media.
Set up the wipe feature for your device so you can do a remote wipe if it’s lost or stolen. Set up your devices to lock themselves after a period of inactivity. Disable Bluetooth when you aren’t using it, and be mindful of the apps you install. Each time you update your operating system, check your privacy settings. Beware of public Wi-Fi, especially when banking. When it’s time for a new device, wipe your old one and set it back to factory defaults before donating or discarding it.
Failing to keep your devices and the information they contain secure is as foolish as leaving your front door wide open. It’s impossible to prevent absolutely every robbery or identity theft, but taking the right steps does offer a lot of protection.