Mobile Device Security – 10 Ways to Protect Your Smartphone

With billions of mobile device users worldwide, mobile phone security is more important than ever. Social media, online banking, email, and the cloud have made accessing our information easy from virtually anywhere, but that also means that protecting your device is more important than ever. In this article, learn how to protect your phone from hackers – and the information on it – with ten different smartphone security tips.

Keep your phone in a safe place

Smartphone Security to Protect Your Investment

You don’t have to always have your phone in your pocket, but make sure that you know where your phone is. Placing your phone on the counter at checkout, on the edge of a café table, or even on your work desk puts you at risk for losing your mobile device altogether. It also makes it possible for someone to steal your phone and, subsequently, the information on it. If your phone isn’t on you, at least ensure it’s not accessible to someone else.

Use strong passwords

You don’t want your phone’s contents to be accessible to someone else. All phones come with the ability to enable password protection. Make sure to set up this security feature as soon as you set up your device, and always lock your phone when not in use.

You can use a strong numeric password or, if your phone offers it, use face ID or your fingerprint. These are more secure ways to lock your phone, but any password will help with mobile device security. Use a password manager if you have trouble remembering passwords for your accounts.

Track your phone's location

A GPS tracker can help you find your phone if you ever lose it or have it stolen. Using an app on Apple, like Find My iPhone, can help you locate your phone. Google’s Find My Device performs the same functions online for Android users. Make sure to enable these features to allow you to find your phone if anything ever happens to it.

Stay up to date on operating system updates

Staying current with operating system (OS) updates helps with mobile device security. Doing so ensures that your device has the best protections against malware, security threats, and data leaks. Keep your apps updated for the same reason. With device updates, most devices automatically let you know when you can do a system update; all you need to do is restart your device. Apple and Android devices even give users the option to perform system updates at night when the phone is plugged in and connected to WiFi. This makes updating your device, which is an important security step, even easier.  

Choose apps wisely

As a rule of thumb, only download applications from the App Store or Google Play store. These stores verify the authenticity of every app available, meaning they only have secure apps for users to download. Apps that you can download off the Internet are often unreliable and security threats, as hackers use these types of apps as fronts for downloadable malware.

Additionally, be sure to read the description of any app you download along with the app permissions. If the app requires that you link to other applications that contain your personal information, you may not want to download it.

Never open suspicious text messages or emails

Phishing attacks, which are legitimate-looking malicious messages, are a threat for mobile phone users. Texts and emails are an easy way for hackers to infect your device with malware and access your personal information. If you get a text or email from someone that just doesn’t seem right, don’t open the message, click any links included, or download any related attachments. It’s possible you could accidentally download a Trojan horse, spyware, or other malware in doing so.

Avoid free WiFi when possible

While free WiFi is helpful when you’re on the go, it’s better to remain on a secure network. Hackers can set up personal hotspots in public areas to gain access to the information of anyone who joins their network. Furthermore, even on legitimate public WiFi networks, it’s easier for a hacker to intercept your data because public networks don’t have the same levels of security as your home networks. To protect your phone and help with mobile device security, avoid free WiFi networks.

Never open suspicious text messages or emails.

Texting and emailing is an easy way for hackers to infect your device with malware and obtain your data. If you receive a message from a stranger or something seems off, don't click on anything in the message and erase it immediately. You should never download any apps via text or email messages.

Learn the signs of being hacked

If you do get hacked, it’s important to act quickly to prevent further damages. Learn to recognize the signs of a hack to protect your device. Some signs include:

  • Applications opening independently
  • Your device’s battery draining quicker than usual
  • Unexplained changes on your phone bill
  • Pop-up ads on your phone or browser
  • Feeling like your phone is physically hot for no reason
  • Files or messages missing

All of the above could indicate that your device has been hacked. If you notice several of these symptoms, you may need to run an antivirus scan to check for malware. Change your passwords after you run the scan to protect your device and your information.

Get insurance on your device

If you’re worried about breaking or losing your phone, you can invest in phone insurance. Traditional insurance providers, like Progressive and Allstate, offer insurance that protects your phone from drops, cracked screens, theft, vandalism, and other physical damages. Some cellphone providers, like T-Mobile, also offer their own version of phone insurance. If you’re accident-prone or worried about breaking your device after purchasing it, consider investing in device insurance for smartphone security.

Back up your data to the cloud

Backing up your phone to the cloud is an easy way to protect your information should something ever happen to your device. You’ll be able to re-upload your contacts, photos, and other information onto a new device. Apple’s iCloud is a simple, integrated option for iPhone users. For Android users, Google Drive is a great option, as it allows users to upload all kinds of documents and photos for storage. Make sure you back up your data regularly, as you want to have the most up-to-date version of your files in case something happens.