How to keep your mobile phone more secure

It goes without saying in today's digital era, our mobile phones have become part and parcel of daily life from messaging apps to checking the weather and engaging in shopping as well as  business. According to Statista, 85% of adults in the US alone own a smartphone. Our phones have, in essence, become a sort of master key into much of a person's digital identity. As such, it's critical to make sure we know the dangers we open ourselves up to when downloading apps and engaging in online transactions via our phones.

One of our latest security awareness training videos covers the basics that many people don't think of implementing.

Limit App access to Camera and Photos! 

If you've used your phone to snap a picture of your ID or a contract so you could sign it digitally, understand that any app you've given access to view your photos can also view these sensitive documents, too! Chances are many apps that have access don't need that access to function. Plus, you can temporarily give access if it happens you do need it.

Check which apps have unlimited access by going to Settings >> Privacy and then restrict any apps you do not want to have access to your camera or photos. Also - any confidential photos you needed to upload, if no longer needed, consider deleting those completely.

Check out which apps have access to other details

Data, data, data. Marketers love data and while it may not be for malicious purposes, the fact of the matter is many apps use this data to either sell to third parties or they use third parties to gather it - third parties you may not know. The more data you allow apps to collect the less privacy - and more access - you open yourself up to. Less access is better privacy.

While you're in your phone settings, go ahead and see which apps have access to other information you'd rather not share such as your location, microphone and contacts.

Delete Unused Apps

Just because you are no longer using apps doesn't mean that those apps are no longer using your data. Every few months it's a good habit to scroll through your list of apps and delete any that you have not used in a few months. You can always download these apps again in the future but unused apps tend to become like unused food in the fridge. The security may not get updated and it opens you up to security holes that become risks. So delete and add back in when you need it.

app stores aren't free of malware and lookalike brands

Though Google and Apple work to minimize malicious apps in their stores, they cannot guarantee every app is safe. It's important to take a few moments before downloading an app that you verify it is the official app from the official brand website. Number of downloads and reviews are a start, but it's not enough to trust an app.

There are lookalike apps out there designed to mimic real company branding, but it may very well be that those legitimate companies actually don't have an app. Such was the case for one unfortunate individual who downloaded an app for monitoring her bitcoin but instead downloaded a lookalike app that stole her money. Her real-life scam is dramatized below.

 

 

a few more good habits to adopt for better phone security and privacy

Ensure your WiFi and bluetooth settings are not always enabled and don't automatically connect to any public signals available. These should only be turned on and linked to trusted signals. Criminals love to post 'Free WiFi' with the name of a nearby coffee shop or store that is actually waiting to scam your info.

Keep sensitive data stored securely. It should go without saying but many phone users think because the device is physically with them then any info on it stays with them as well. As it should be clear by now, that is not the case. So do not keep any passwords or sensitive information stored in plain text - not even creatively saved in your Contacts. Sensitive data, including passwords, should only be kept in encrypted formats and in secure digital locations, such as a password manager.

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Understanding our smart phones can be an entry point into other parts of our digital lives is an important step to adopting stronger security habits to protect our privacy for ourselves, our families and our businesses.