In the wake of huge data breaches at Target, Home Depot and JPMorgan Chase, digital security is more important than ever. After all, in today’s increasingly connected world, all of our sensitive information exists online in some shape or form. On top of that, there’s a good chance your data is stored on or accessed from a mobile device you bring with you everywhere you go. Since that’s the case, it’s imperative you take the right steps to ensure your data is as safe as can be. Let’s take a look at seven mobile security tips you should keep in mind to keep your personal data safe.
1. Password Protect Your Devices
Your mobile devices have mechanisms designed to prevent ill-intentioned individuals from gaining access to your sensitive information. “Using a PIN or unique password is the single most important thing to do as a user of a smartphone to protect the device, the data and your reputation,” explains Jacqueline Beauchere of Microsoft. “I’d say the data on your phone is more valuable than on your desktop computer, partly because it has more recent information.” A password provides an extra layer of security, and it very well may serve as a deterrent for someone trying to find your information if that person can’t crack the code.
2. Don’t Give Out Private Information Over Public Platforms
If you’re talking with a buddy on Skype or posting on a message board, it should go without saying that it’s in your best interest to keep your personal data private. When you find yourself communicating digitally over public platforms, you should be cautious of revealing any information that could be used to identify you or gain access to your private profiles. For example, it’s not uncommon for a security question to ask you about your first pet’s name. Knowing that, you shouldn’t really broadcast Scrappy’s name.
3. Don’t Store Passwords Online or In Your Phone
Oftentimes, websites and apps will ask you if you’d allow them to store the username and password you use to access their sites. While such features certainly are convenient, at the end of the day, if you don’t store your passwords online, hackers won’t be able to steal them. Additionally, let’s say you misplace your mobile device. Should the device fall into the wrong set of hands, that ill-intentioned individual is now able to access all of your accounts — many of which likely include confidential payment information. Many people store account information on their mobile devices via a third-party app and sometimes just in the default notepad. Consider storing account info on a USB stick and keeping it in a safe place. Never disclose personal identification or account information via texts or emails.
4. Make Sure Your Operating System Is Up To Date
Whether we’re talking about Heartbleed or Shellshock, it seems like there’s a new serious security flaw that’s revealed every few weeks. Once these flaws are uncovered, programmers work hard to patch them. These patches are then released in the updated version of an operating system. Same things go for viruses and malware. Nefarious individuals are constantly trying to create new programs that will steal data or cause headaches, and the good guys are constantly trying to keep pace. By updating your operating system, you’re ensuring you have the latest security measures available at your disposal.
5. Beware of Public Hotspots
Internet connectivity is a great thing, particularly when you’re in a bind and need to access information when you’re on the go. But you need to beware that there are many ill-intentioned folk who constantly monitor public W-Fi networks to steal information from unsuspecting individuals. To counter this, consider turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options. In other words, disabling these protocols should become the norm. If and when you need to use them, turn them on to connect. By doing this, you’re able to prevent cybercriminals from seeing what you’re doing online, learning your passwords and gaining access to other sensitive information.
6. Always Know Which Vendors You’re Doing Business With
You need to read the fine print, so to speak, of the apps you download and the vendors you do business with. Some apps will use a lot of your information in order to create a better customer experience. But that information — which might include passwords, access to text messages, access to other apps and your location at any given moment — might seem to be too private for some. So give apps as few permissions as is possible. That way, there are fewer sets of eyeballs able to look at your private data. Also, don’t blindly trust every app that springs up overnight. Chances are you can trust something by a company like Google, but you might want to ignore Crazy John’s Insane App.
7. Be Suspicious About Random Emails or Instant Messages
As much as you might hate to hear it, there isn’t a Nigerian prince out there who wants to send you a vast sum of money. Therein lies the problem of the Internet: There’s so much information out there, but there’s also so much misinformation. So you’ve got to become discerning and figure out which sources you can trust. Don’t surf the Web and believe everything you encounter. When someone randomly contacts you with a link, don’t click on it. Chances are it’ll be some variation of a scam. Got any more mobile security tips? Let us know in the comments below![frontpage_news widget=”8263″ name=”Other Helpful QR Codes Posts”]
About the author: Jesse Aaron is a community manager and freelance writer. He runs a blog and forums about social media marketing on Mashbout.