If you think that your smartphone is impervious to malware, think again. Your smartphone functions as a mini computer that you regularly use to access and store, making it a prime target for hackers. In fact, a recent study revealed that there was an unprecedented 350 percent increase of mobile malware in 2012, and the numbers are only expected to get worse this year.
So how do you make sure that your unit remains free from unwanted attacks? Here are five easy ways to have a worry-free smartphone experience:
Know your phone’s security features – and utilize them.
Your brand new smartphone comes with a user manual for good reason. A huge chunk of what you pay for is attributed to the enhanced features of your unit, so know how to use them to your advantage. Don’t make it easy for a random stranger to access your phone; activate the PIN lock with a password that isn’t easy to decipher.
In the event that your phone is lost or stolen, be prepared with back-up measures. Use data encryption or sync your phone to your computer regularly. iPhone and Android devices also have GPS locator apps that you can use to trace your unit; make sure that this feature is switched on.
Also, keep your software up-to-date. Developers are always working to optimize the efficiency of your phone and to address previous security problems. Users receive notifications about these updates as soon as they’re available, so there’s no reason why you would miss out on these improvements.
Be smart about making connections.
If you were in an internet café, would you be comfortable plugging a USB with important information into a spare terminal? Of course not. Not only can your files potentially be corrupted, this can also open the window for your own computer to be infected.
In the same way, avoid joining unknown Wi-Fi networks or hotspots. Disable your Bluetooth when not in use, or at least switch it to non-discoverable mode. Hackers can use these connections to gain access to your phone and the information stored on it.
Think before you install that new application.
One of the best things about your smartphone is that there’s always the possibility of downloading a new app to make it even more interesting. It’s important, though, not to be too trigger-happy when scouring the web for your latest addition. Make sure that you go through the right channels – App Store for Apple, the Google Play for Android.
To further eliminate chances of contracting malware, check the reviews and developer information of an app before confirming the purchase. It’s also a good idea to vet out the permissions you give an app to access your phone book and other information. Consider if these are really necessary; if not, you might be better off skipping that particular download.
Invest in a reputable mobile security app.
It’s practically SOP to install an antivirus program on your new computer, so you’ll be wise to adopt the same measures for your smartphone – particularly since this is the number one device you use all the time. There are several free applications available, but remember to be careful as some may be fronts for malware. Research is your friend. To be safe, stick with tried and tested mobile security apps, even though you might have to shell out a couple of bucks for the download.
Keep your personal information just that – personal.
Spam is not just limited to emails; it’s also prevalent in text messages. Some scammers disguise themselves as prominent companies that ask you to update your profile with them. Don’t respond, rather, go through verified channels to confirm the authenticity of this message. Never give out important information in email or text, most especially in response to someone you don’t know. And, as when using your computer, don’t access links that are questionable or unverified.
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