It is safe to say that if you’re reading this then you own a mobile phone. In the UK something like 80% of the population are using a handset to call, message, browse the internet and do all sorts of other day to day personal and business-related actions.
It is true that our mobile devices are integral to our everyday lives. But they are also the target of hacks where criminals attempt to infiltrate the defences to steal information – personal and financial – for their own benefit. It’s not just the phone itself that you need to keep an eye on, but the virtual world within it. These days, there are some important steps that you can take to provide better protection for your handset. Here we have picked out some basic tools for you to use for better peace of mind.
Basic Safeguards – Your Passwords, Fingerprint and Face ID
Let’s start with the easy stuff.
If you want to protect your mobile handset from anyone browsing through, you must set your own password, and ideally use a fingerprint or Face recognition feature. This is the simplest way to prevent anyone who steals your phone from accessing all the information on it. Nowadays, whether you are using an iPhone, Android or any other device, you will almost certainly have the option to set up all of this protection.
It is preferable to double-lock your device with both the password and the biometric features and its really easy to do. Remember that if someone can break through then all your important financial accounts will have another layer of security too. You can also use the password management tools that most handsets come with to ensure that any passwords you generate are safe. Most of these tools come with the ability to store your passwords securely too.
NOTE: iPhones no longer give the option for finger-print security so you will have to use the face recognition option instead now.
Using Common Sense When Downloading Apps
One of the most common ways in which we use a mobile phone now is in conjunction with downloaded apps that come from the App Store for iPhone or Play Store for Android.
Apps are an excellent and easy way to access everything from our bank accounts to ticketing services, games and public services like the NHS. But they are also a gateway for hackers and scammers to get into your phone, which means you must be careful when choosing which you download. Here are some basic tips to prevent you getting hacked through an app.
Firstly, before you hit that download button, always check to see if there are any reviews of the software you are about to accept. Most decent apps will have positive reviews, and any toxic ones will probably be called out, and hopefully removed from the stores very quickly. You can also check the developer behind the software – see if they have a website themselves, which other apps, if any, they have produced and what kind of reviews they have too. All this information is important to giving you peace of mind before you download. Remember too that all apps will have been vetted by Google or Apple before they go into the store so there is only a small chance that the one you choose will have issues.
In particular, if you are using gaming apps or any others through which you are making payments then you should check to see that the operator is fully licensed and offers secure and safe banking. For example, gambling sites providing apps to play slots, poker and casino games must be licensed in the UK or they should not be trusted.
We also recommend that you regularly carry out a check of all the apps on your phone and delete any that you are no longer using. We all have downloaded apps that we use once and then never again. There is little point keeping them – they are only taking up space.
Another tip here is to run through the permissions that are set for all the apps on your phone. See which other parts of your mobile they are accessing – maps, photos, social media accounts and music. You may think this is harmless, but we recommend that you minimise the amount of interaction between apps where possible. So, carrying out a regular check and removing these connections is time well spent.
These simple steps around the use of Apps are vital housekeeping that can help you stay better protected against hackers.
Remote Phone Security
Not everyone is aware of the option to handle security remotely on their phone, but this is a useful feature that has been developed by Google to give you the ability to shut down all access in the worst-case scenario in which your handset is stolen.
This can be done through your Google My Account pages by following the Security link and then Find My Device. You can switch the service on, then should it be required, access it through a desktop computer or tablet if you lose your mobile. Find My Device allows you to locate your phone, and also shut it down, or even wipe all the data from it remotely, should you wish to.
This is one of the best ways to protect yourself and an ingenious solution to quickly stop any thief from accessing vital personal information.
Mobile phone security is always a hot topic, whether it’s protecting the device itself, or the virtual contents. Fortunately, there are some simple steps that we can all take to live more securely and minimize the danger of being hacked. We recommend that you take the time to follow the advice in this article and going forward always stay on top of the latest security features to ensure your mobile is always in a safe place.