Smartphones and tablets are so much a part of everyday life, it’s easy to forget that they can contain an incredible wealth of information about you. A recent study by security software company Symantec1 showed that over 50% of people who found a smartphone tried to return them to their rightful owners – but 96% of people snooped through the device for personal information. Follow these 5 simple ways to keep your mobile devices and personal information secure.
tried to access personal apps or data
tried to access private photos
tried to access social networking and personal email
accessed a “Saved Passwords” file
tried to access an online banking app
A few simple steps can keep your personal information secure, even when your mobile device is out of reach.
Lock your screen with a password
Keep your personal information from being just a finger swipe away. Industry studies show that 30% to 60% of people don’t lock their smartphones, even though almost all smartphones and tablets allow you to password-protect your device. Set up your device with a password that can’t be easily guessed. You may also want to consider putting your contact information on your lock screen, so if you lose your device, whoever finds it will be able to get in touch with you.
Keep track of your devices
If you’ve ever misplaced your keys, the remote control, or your glasses, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to find your smartphone or tablet with a location app. Find My Phone, Find My iPhone, BlackBerry Protect and similar apps can help you locate your device by showing you the location through a website and having your device emit a sound. Many of these apps will also allow you to remotely lock your device or even wipe all of your personal information. But remember – almost all location apps need to be set up before you misplace your device.
Download apps only from trusted sources
Every time you install and App, you are giving the developer the ability to peer into your phone. Ensure you download and install your apps from reputable companies and through the iTunes, Google Play and BlackBerry World. When you download apps from anywhere else, you may be exposing your device to a higher risk of getting viruses and malware. This threat is growing every year – in one year, the volume of mobile malware has grown by 167%.2
Update your devices and apps regularly
When programmers find security flaws, companies will close these gaps by providing updates. Keeping your device’s apps and OS up-to-date only takes a few minutes, plus it ensures you’re getting the benefits of using the most up-to-date technology.
Be careful with public wifi.
When you want to check the news or weather, public wifi can be a great way to access the Internet without using up your data plan. However, the information that travels on public wifi may not be private. For this reason, many experts recommend avoiding using a public hotspot for anything that you want to keep private or anything that requires a password.
These are just a few ways you can protect the data on your mobile devices. The smartest move you can make is to be aware of the data that is on your smartphone or tablet, and to treat mobile devices with the same level of vigilance you’d use for protecting your most personal information.
1 Report: The Symantec Smartphone Honey Stick Project
2 McAfee Labs Threats Report, June 2014