People store their most private details on their smartphones, and so when a hacker gains access to your device and steals your information it is a huge invasion of privacy and can feel almost like someone burgled your home. Your smartphone holds both valuable information, such as bank details and passwords, but also personal items like photographs and private messages that you would not like anyone else to see.
Mobile phone theft continues to be a major problem around the globe, with criminal gangs stealing them out of the hands of unsuspecting members of the public and send them off to Eastern Europe where hackers break in and steal the information before shipping them on for resale on the black market in countries like Nigeria. And even if you keep your phone in your physical possession, hackers are constantly trying new and inventive ways to break into your device remotely and steal your data without you knowing. In is critical, therefore, that you develop a strategy to keep the information your store on your phone secure in every eventuality. Here are some tips on how to protect your smartphone from hackers and intruders.
Update your OS and apps
Device manufacturers and software firms are constantly updating their software with new features and security fixes that can help you protect your phone from hackers. Android and iPhone users will be notified when updates for their operating systems and apps have updates available, and when possible you should install these updates without delay.
Lock your device
Both Android and iOS have reliable software security features baked into their operating systems, but historically many people found pass codes to be annoying and failed to switch them on. Luckily, fingerprint sensors and facial recognition have become standard on almost all smartphones in recent years and so there is little excuse not to switch on lock-screen security today. However, even if you have an older phone it is still worth switching on the pass code protection now rather than worry about someone stealing your data down the road.
Use a password manager to create and store strong and unique passwords
As crazy as it may seem, “123456” and “password” remain the two most commonly used passwords today and they are little better than having no password at all. Many people also choose to use the same password for multiple accounts, and while this one password may be strong, if it is ever broken it could leave your entire digital life open to hackers. It is much more secure and easier to use a password manager like Lastpass or 1Password to securely create and store unique passwords for every one of your online accounts and then you only have to remember one strong password to access this service. For increased protection, switch on two-factor authentication (“2FA”) for the password manager itself.
Many people only think of using antivirus to protect their home PC, but in reality it is always useful to also have antivirus protection on every device you own. If you only install software from the App Store or Play Store those apps are generally secure as they have been tested by Apple or Google engineers, but when browsing the web you can never be sure when someone will choose to target your device. Many well-known websites have had hackers try and surreptitiously inject malware onto users phones through advertising, and reliable up-to-date antivirus from the likes of BitDefender or Sophos will help stop these attempts in their tracks.
Use a VPN
Public WiFi is always a bit of a security risk, but even when using more trusted networks a VPN can help keep you protected against prying eyes as they make a secure encrypted connection between your device and the website or web service you are using, which means not only will they prevent hackers from seeing what websites you visit, but also your phone network or ISP and government spooks. VPN review site the-bestvpn.com rates Cyberghost, ExpressVPN, and NordVPN as three of the best on the market for security features and cost.
Avoid public USB-charging points and public WiFi
If you connect your phone to an public charging socket to charge or a public WiFi hotspot, even if they look to be from a reliable vendor, you are leaving your device open to exploitation by bad actors. The charging port of your phone is also the data port and so are an easy way for hackers to gain access to your device, while connecting to the wrong WiFi hotspot could mean sending all your usernames and passwords to them directly.
If you follow these steps to protect your smartphone from hackers you should feel confident that you have done everything possible to protect your data form prying eyes and it will be much less likely that thieves will be able to steal your identity, plunder your savings, or delve into your personal life.