If you are like most people living in the new millennium, your smartphone likely feels like an extension of yourself. In it live your friends, your hobbies, your schedule, your entertainment, your connection to loved ones who live far away, etc. When you forget your phone at home, you feel weird and maybe even a little panicky.
It’s easy to tease ourselves about our co-dependency on these devices. Still, because it is such an integral part of your life, it is important to make sure your device is as safe and secure as possible. Here is how you make that happen.
The first step to keeping your smartphone safe is to make sure that it is physically protected. Even the most careful among us will drop our phones from time to time and smudges and screen scratches happen to all of us. It’s just part of device ownership. It is important, therefore, to outfit your phone with a really durable case–preferably one that can absorb shock. You should also cover your phone’s screen with a screen protector.
PRO TIP: Make sure you get a screen protector that is designed for your specific device to ensure maximum performance. For example, if you have an iPhone 6, get an iPhone 6 screen protector. Don’t buy something generic.
The data you store on your smartphone, particularly if yours is an Android or other open source OS device, is incredibly vulnerable. It is important that you take steps to protect it. That’s right: your smartphone needs malware and threat protection just like your laptop does. Check with the company you use for your computer’s protection and find out if they make smartphone tools as well. It is also very important for you to keep your phone’s OS up to date. New versions of the software will often fix security issues with previous versions.
Beyond the standard malware protections, it is also important to make sure you aren’t accidentally inviting hackers and thieves into your device. The easiest way to do this is to download unverified and third party apps from unknown providers. This is harder to do on Apple devices as nearly all of the apps available for those smartphones and tablets must be vetted and approved before being added to the iStore. With Android and open source devices, however, the protocols for development are much looser. Make sure you only download from trusted providers who have a track record of safety and protection built into their apps and software.
Common Sense Protections
After adding cases, screen protectors and malware protection to your phone, most of the steps you take to keep your phone safe and protected are common sense and practicality based. For example:
Use secured logins like your fingerprint instead of simple passwords. Anybody sitting close enough can see what you’re typing and steal your passwords that way.
Turn your security settings all the way up, especially the setting for passcodes. Many phones will have an option that will effectively “brick” your phone after the wrong passcode is entered a certain amount of times.
Turn off the wi-fi on your phone when you are walking around. Constantly searching for and attempting to log in to wi-fi hot spots drains your battery. It also keeps your phone “open” to anybody else who might also be logged into the system.
Don’t leave your phone unattended. Keep it on you at all times when you are out of the house. Phones are easily and quickly stolen so don’t leave it out for someone to swipe.
Turn on your encryption. There are some exploits now available that will allow someone to “eavesdrop” on your phone’s systems. These exploits make it possible to read text messages sent and received, listen to and record phone conversations, etc. Use encrypted systems for communication to prevent these issues.
Your phone is important to your livelihood (even if it embarrasses you to admit it). Keeping it safe will keep many other aspects of your life safe and protected as well.