Mobile users store all kinds of sensitive information on their devices, from selfie photos to credit card information. While this can be convenient, it also makes smartphones an attractive target for cyberthieves. Mobile infection rates rose in the third quarter of 2017, with smartphones accounting for 72 percent of all infections, a Nokia study found. Many mobile infections are installed through malware, while others are transmitted via computers running Windows via a USB or wireless connection, which comprise 28 percent of all attacks. Androids are currently the most popular target for cyberthieves, with 68.5 percent of attacks infecting Android devices.
The growing threat to mobile devices makes it vital to follow good smartphone security procedures. Here are four keys to protecting sensitive information on your mobile device.
Use a Device with Strong Built-in Security Features
Choosing a device with strong built-in security features and making the most of these forms the foundation for effective mobile security protection. Smartphones equipped with today’s best mobile processors include advanced security features that can help protect your device. For instance, the Qualcomm Mobile Security suite uses artificial intelligence to support biometric authentication of user identity as well as automated on-device malware detection.
Selecting biometric authentication, a password, or PIN number under your screen lock security settings helps protect your device from unauthorized users in case it gets lost or stolen. In the event your device does get lost, you can use a service such as Find My Device to locate it or remotely wipe your data. Enabling encryption on your device will also help protect your data in the event your device falls into the wrong hands.
Keep Your Software Updated
Another key to security is keeping your device’s software updated. The latest software updates incorporate the latest security bug fixes, so installing them will help protect you from the latest viruses and malware attacks. Most recent ransomware attacks have hit users with outdated operating systems hardest.
To keep your software updated automatically, be sure to follow the directions when you get notifications to update your operating system and apps. If you want to manually check whether you’re using your device’s current operating system, check in the system update or software update menu under your security settings. Back up data such as contacts and photos before running an update.
Use Secure Networks
Another way hackers can access your data is if you use an unsecure network. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are especially attractive targets for cyberthieves, but any unsecure network prevents a potential vulnerability.
To protect yourself from unsecure networks, turn off your device’s automatic Wi-Fi connection feature, and avoid sending sensitive data over any public network of unknown security. For maximum security, set up a virtual private network (VPN), which uses encryption to protect the data you transmit.
Limit Online Sharing
Even if you take strong security precautions to protect your device, software and network, you can compromise your own data if you don’t limit where you share it online. Items that you post publicly can be viewed by anyone, and even information you share privately with your provider may be leaked through third-party services.
To limit the data you share online, avoid posting anything publicly that could compromise sensitive information such as your phone number, location or financial data. Additionally, it’s important to pay attention to the privacy settings on any apps you use. Some apps may publish information such as your phone number publicly if you don’t choose to keep it private. For example, on Facebook, you can go into your privacy settings to adjust who can see information you share. You can also adjust information shared with advertisers to target you for ads, and you can revoke data sharing permission for apps you don’t use.
Choosing a device with robust security features gives you a built-in security advantage. Keeping your software updated protects you from the latest vulnerabilities in your operating system and apps. Using a secure network protects you from hackers who may be trying to intercept unencrypted data. Limiting what you share online will restrict the amount of your data that is potentially vulnerable. Following these guidelines will help keep your data safe when you’re using your mobile device.