Every day, smartphones are becoming more important in our lives. And there’s no reason to think that the trend of smartphone usage will end anytime soon. Many people use their smartphones for work and leisure, including browsing the web and checking their e-mail.
People also use their phones to communicate with friends and family members via text messages or voice calls. Thus, the use of smartphones and the internet has been deemed a necessity.
With the coming age of an internet-based society, more and more digital trails are being left behind. These digital data can be an information gold mine to criminals looking to sell personal information or steal your identity.
But don’t you worry! You can easily avoid these dangers and protect your privacy while using smart devices. But how can you do that?
1. Have A Strong Password
Having a strong password is a must. Most people have a hard time remembering complex passwords, so they use simple ones like “password” or birthdays. This is especially true if you’ve got multiple devices using different apps and services.
But these simple passwords are easy for hackers to guess.
Avoid using obvious numbers like 1-2-3-4 or 5-5-5-5, and avoid using your birthday, home address, or middle name as part of your passcode. To make it harder for hackers to guess your password, combine numbers, symbols, and capital letters into a longer phrase.
It is also recommended to change your password every now and then.
2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication
This provides an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a one-time code sent to your phone after entering your username and password.
Go through your accounts now and make sure this is turned on. Do this, especially for email, banking, and other sensitive sites that store personal information or financial data. With 2FA enabled, even if someone steals your phone or knows your password, it will be much harder for them to access your account.
3. Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi To Pay Bills
The biggest privacy concern about our smartphones is their ability to track us without our knowledge. Using any public Wi-Fi network can reveal your location because your phone uses the network’s GPS to pinpoint your location. This info is then sent to third parties.
Even if you use a VPN to mask your IP address, the phone still has an IP address, which can be tracked by law enforcement or advertisers.
Don’t use SMS or email with sensitive information like financial data or Social Security numbers. Use a viable residential proxy if you need to send sensitive information via texts or emails. This will protect against hackers or snoops who might want to intercept that data while it’s online.
4. Disable Mobile Data, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi When Not Using
If you regularly connect your smartphone to public Wi-Fi networks, turn off Wi-Fi when you’re not using it. Do the same with Bluetooth when you’re not using it for hands-free calls or streaming music from your smartphone to a speaker or headphones.
Also, make sure your phone isn’t sending out unnecessary data over your mobile network by disabling mobile data when you aren’t using it. Always ensure you’re using a proxy when connecting over public Wi-Fi.
5. Avoid Downloading Free Apps With Poor Reviews
Many online publications routinely review new apps to determine how much data they collect from their users and how they use that data. Read reviews from reputable websites before you download any new apps to avoid installing software that may leak your personal information.
Don’t give an app access to anything more than it needs. For example, if you’re downloading a calculator app, it doesn’t need access to your contacts list or location. If the app requests access anyway, consider finding a different one instead.
6. Disable Location Sharing
Smartphone apps and websites use location information to provide a better user experience. GPS-enabled navigation is one obvious example. However, this convenience is not so convenient when it makes your network vulnerable.
On Android, you can disable location sharing on an app-by-app basis. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location services and disable the apps you don’t want tracking your whereabouts. On iOS, go to Settings > Privacy > Location services and do the same thing.
7. Avoid Using Facebook Login On Apps
If you’re using Facebook apps like Messenger or WhatsApp, consider disabling the log-in feature. This way, you will be able to keep your personal information off the company’s servers. You’ll also avoid having your location services turned on, which are often a complete mess.
8. Don’t Click On Ads In Your Browser or Email Inbox
Ads that pop up while browsing the web or in a social media feed may seem innocent enough, but they can be used to spread malware. They can also be used to clone websites that ask you to enter personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive data.
Generic ads that appear in search results pose less threat, as long as you don’t fall for the phishing tricks described below.
9. Don’t Jailbreak or Root Your Phone
Jailbreaking on iOS devices and rooting on Android are used by people who want to install apps that aren’t available from their phone’s app store. There are some legitimate reasons people do this, but it comes with a big risk. You can lose control of your device and your data.
With a jailbroken or rooted phone, you are more vulnerable to malware attacks and attacks targeting specific vulnerabilities on your device. While these attacks might be very rare now, they could become more common as more people jailbreak and root their phones.
11. Keep Software Updated
Install the latest OS updates as soon as prompted because many security flaws are fixed in updates. But don’t just take Google’s word for it, do your research. A good source for information about whether a particular update fixes a specific problem that makes the Android OS.
12. Keep Your Data Safe
Our smartphones are connected to almost every app we use daily. While these connections help users, they also make for a vulnerable network.
Our phones can send data to advertisers and marketers about what we do, where we are, and how long we typically stay there. Because of that vulnerability, we need to take further precautions to protect our privacy.