Tabloids regularly publish nightmarish stories about people being stalked or having their credit card information stolen by someone tapping into their smartphone. While many of these are inflated examples of scaremongering that should be taken with a pinch of salt, there are some basic security steps worth taking with any handset that you regularly use. Here we take a look at five of the best ways to keep your mobile life secure.
5. Disable Geotagging
Many smartphones automatically geo-tag photos when they are captured, leaving the information in the metadata that accompanies the image wherever it goes. This can be brilliant, say if you want to link a photo you’ve just uploaded to Instagram to the location where it was taken, but it is also a goldmine for stalkers.
iOS allows you to individually configure the geo-tagging capabilities of apps from the Settings menu, while other platforms offer varying degrees of the same functionality. Maybe you don’t need to keep everything switched off all the time, but it’s worth being aware that you can be tracked by the images that you share.
4. Be careful with free Wi-Fi
Many public places now offer free Wi-Fi, with cafes and restaurants being particularly prevalent examples. The convenience this offers is brilliant; after all, extensive web use can eat into your data plan and incur extra charges. However, there are risks worth being aware of.
Unencrypted connections can result in your data being accessed by others, be it information contained in emails or credit card details. The down-to-earth advice here is to simply be careful about what you send over public networks, maybe saving the really important stuff until you get home.
3. Keep your apps and OS updated
Reports coming from China and Russia of late suggest that malware is becoming more prevalent on Android devices in those countries, with some analysts predicting it will hit western territories soon.
While much malware comes in the form of Trojans that have to be willingly downloaded by users, regularly updating your operating system to the latest version will ensure that your device has all the latest security updates needed to protect it.
2. Avoid questionable-looking apps
As mentioned, apps carrying Trojans can be inadvertently downloaded as they rarely advertise themselves as such.
When downloading new apps to your handset, be sure to only get them from trusted sources such as Google Play or Amazon’s app store, which have security measures in place to protect customers. Another tip is to read through the reviews of apps in their respective app stores to find out if anyone has had any trouble with them.
1. Wipe it
This is a must at the end of your handset’s lifecycle; performing a factory reset to delete all of your data that has been stored on the device is essential for security. Selling the handset or passing it on to someone else while your information is still on it could leave you dangerously exposed.
Questions have been raised about the effectiveness of wiping data from a device, with several anecdotal stories having done the rounds about personal data remaining on smartphones after they were wiped. However, this is important to bear in mind when changing handsets, as it is with all electronic goods that store your data.