When it comes to phones, laptops, tablets and many other devices, data security is a top priority for owners. Physical forms of damage to a phone, for instance, are certainly a concern – but while these lead only to operational issues and a potential replacement need, whether to a screen or the entire device, data security breaches can be situations where long-term problems are created through the loss of personal data or even potential identity theft risks.
At FixIT Mobile, we’re here to help with numerous areas of phone repair and protection, including assisting many clients with simple areas of data security to ensure they’re never dealing with hacking or other similar risks. What are some of the basic daily areas you can consider or improve to keep your phone and its sensitive data protected at all times? Here’s a primer.
Locking, Biometrics, and Two-Factor Identification
First and foremost, perhaps the simplest form of data security for your phone involves keeping it locked whenever it’s not in use, particularly in any public setting. Modern technology allows us a few options for locking phone screens depending on which phone model you own, including each of the following:
- Passcode: The simplest method today is the passcode, which can be four or six numbers. If this is the only option your phone offers or the only one you’ve chosen, be sure to select a unique passcode that’s not the same as others you use regularly.
- Pattern: Other phones offer the ability to draw a pattern of some kind to unlock the phone, which is usually more robust security-wise than just a passcode.
- Biometrics: Recently, biometric advances like fingerprint or facial recognition have allowed for a new layer of phone security. These can even be layered on top of a passcode or pattern entry for those who want extremely high levels of locking security.
- Two-factor identification: Especially for those who use their phone to access the Cloud, two-factor identification is a method that makes it far harder for hackers to access any information.
The lock screen isn’t the only area where you might have password access set up within your phone. Others include app passwords or passwords that may be saved on various internet browsers when using certain websites from your phone.
No matter what the purpose here is, it’s vital to ensure you use different and unique passwords for each of these areas. If you have multiple password-protected apps on your phone, for instance, their passwords should be different no matter what – if they’re the same, a hacker who finds a single password suddenly has access to all your apps. This area is important for both private consumers and those using their devices in a professional capacity.
Secure Connections and Encryption
When in any public area, it’s important to be cognizant of the connections involved with your phone. In particular, Wi-Fi in public places should be viewed with caution – is the network private and secure? If not, you should not connect to it, or should be using a VPN (virtual private network) to keep yourself protected. One way some scammers or hackers try to get into your device is through unsecured Wi-Fi connections.
Down similar lines, those who prioritize their data security might consider encrypting their smartphone data. Most modern smartphones have encryption settings you can access within your security menu – within an iPhone, for example, this can be found within the “Touch ID & Passcode” section of your settings. For many Android models, the requirements here might be stricter: Your device must usually be at least 80% charged and unrooted before you encrypt it. But once this is done, you can encrypt all your phone’s data so it’s unrecognizable if lost or stolen.
While there are several goals of any operating system update within your phone, one of the top items here for most updates is phone security. Many of us are in the habit of clicking through phone updates or putting them off for as long as possible, but if you value data security as a top theme with your phone, you should not be doing this.
Rather, you should be updating to the newest OS whenever given the opportunity. Many such updates are created directly to address threats to Apple or Android devices that have only recently been discovered – and sadly, such new threats are found regularly as hackers invent new ways to try and invade phones.
If you’re unsure whether you’re updated on your OS, go to your general or “about phone” settings and check in the system/software updates section. In addition, most modern models will notify you regularly when you need an update – some will even force you to perform it after a certain amount of time.
Finally, it’s important to take some care when downloading any new app to your phone. First and foremost, apps should only be downloaded from the official app store your phone uses – other sources could present several risks.
In addition, it’s important to do your research on apps and check things like reviews and use rates. One common tactic of scammers in the app world is to create an app that looks identical to a popular version, with the same logo and features – but you can spot this attempt at a scam through areas like reviews, last update, contact information of the organization and more. Be sure you don’t fall victim to an app scam by being diligent here.