5 simple ways to safeguard your smartphone
Anthony Mathenge 23rd October 2015

For a moment, consider how much information you store on your phone. This may either be personal or professional information. Your smartphone undoubtedly contains some of your most sensitive information, including text messages, credit card numbers, contacts, passwords, photos and other details such as call & internet search histories.

The influx of mobile computing shows that people are now storing sensitive information on their smartphones than never before. As these devices continue to store more for us, security should be at the top of our priority list.

Here are some quick, easy and effective security measures you can implement immediately to ensure you don’t become part of a rising number of users that are being targeted by malicious individuals.

  • Use a Pin/Pattern lock code

The findings of a recent research show that 50% of smartphone users around the world do not bother to set up password/pattern lock on their mobile devices. If a phone is lost, anyone who picks it up will have access to the information in the device. This can lead to data being stolen, unwanted services being registered, or even unauthorized calls being made from the phone.

Always ensure your phone has a personalized pattern or not-so-easy password for the screen lock. A password that is easy to guess is less secure. Avoid common phrases such as your name, or your pet’s name.

You also need to set up a SIM card lock in the form of a PIN number. This is because a screen lock won’t stop someone from removing your SIM card and using it on another device.

With these measures in place, you can be safe knowing that your phone, when stolen, will be of little us e to the average thief.

  • Safeguard sensitive data

While PIN & password locks are helpful, most devices have easily removable storage. It is crucial to protect data that is saved in both the internal & external storage. You can encrypt files on your device so that a password must be entered before a file can be viewed. This can be done using software that is available in the appstore. Most of this software is free to use and can work effectively to provide automated protection.

  • Bluetooth

Most mobile users don’t see Bluetooth as a potential security risk because of its relatively short range of around 10m. However, attacks still do happen since hackers can remotely access a phone if they are in range. Once they have access, they can manipulate data, listen in on conversations, make calls or even browse the internet.

To avoid this, always ensure that Bluetooth is turned off when not in use.  Also, set default Bluetooth configuration to “non-discoverable” mode. This way, anyone searching for a potential target won’t see your device.

  • Install security software

Your smartphone, being a computing device should be protected appropriately. Find an antivirus app like McAfee Mobile Security that includes features like malware detection & prevention, remote data wipe, privacy review of apps and an automatic security advisor.

Unfortunately, there are many fake antivirus apps which are designed to infect your device so be on the lookout while choosing your preferred app.

  • Be wary of Applications

Be cautious while downloading applications. Pay attention to the requirements the application demands upon install. It is very easy to ignore the application requirements in an effort to get the app up and running, but you should be cautious and ensure that realistic demands are being made on access to various features of your phone.

Also, you should pay attention to any security warnings that may be displayed when viewing websites, especially if you are accessing them through unknown wireless networks.

Agreeing to save user details and passwords when logging into websites for future access may seem convenient, but it makes it easy for those accessing an unprotected phone to do the same. This especially important when it comes to online banks and other financial portals where your bank details are saved under your username. Access to these could allow someone to make unwanted purchases or transactions.

Credit: Icon created by Adriano Emerick from Noun Project.