We know that our smartphones are capable of doing just about anything which our desktops can do these days. But all too often, we don’t protect our smartphones nearly as well as we protect our computers.
Hackers are just as capable of breaking into your smartphone and they can do all sorts of damage to you once they are in. As 60 Minutes shows, a hacker could break into your phone and find out who you are calling, where you are, and even listen in on your conversations and read your texts. There is the recent incident where several Democratic staffers recently had their phones attacked by foreign hackers looking to uncover private information.
But while there is no such thing as the perfect protection, implementing protection protocols can help keep your phone safe. Upon seeing even simple protections, most hackers will just move on and search for another less-protected phone. Here are a few things which you can do to keep your phone safe.
1. Keep your Phone safe
You may think of hackers as nerds sitting in some basements inputting some complicated program. But that is not the biggest threat to your phone. Your biggest threat is an ordinary thief who snatches your phone, escapes, and then cracks your password to find what is inside.
So the first step to protecting your phone is to do the same things which you should be doing to protect against thieves. Be aware of your environment when you are using your smartphone. Keep an eye out for suspicious individuals, and grip your phone with both hands so it is harder for the thief to rip it away. Also, back up your mobile data to your computer so that you can easily access it if your phone gets stolen.
2. Don’t use your Phone for everything
One of the biggest reasons why hackers try to go after your phone is so that they can uncover sensitive information such as banking information and passwords. But if you don’t have that sort of data on your phone, then there is nothing for the hacker to uncover.
Obviously, you need certain private information on your phone. But what about something like banking information or work-related affairs? Do you really need to check that information now, or can it wait until you get home and check it on your computer?
Avoid accessing confidential information whenever possible, especially if you are using public Wi-Fi. Also regularly clear your browsing history and caches so that hackers have less information to find.
3. Update your phone
Hacking is a war between hackers and software companies. The hackers find loopholes, software companies fix the holes, the hackers find more holes, and so on. But in order to fix those holes, you have to keep your phone updated so that the earlier holes are filled in.
This is particularly important because less competent hackers have to rely on those holes which other hackers have uncovered to get your information. The longer you choose to not update your phone, the more the opportunity to break in and uncover your information.
4. Look into encryption
There are a lot of people out there who think that encryption and password protection are the same thing. This is incorrect. Encryption scrambles your phone’s data so that even if the hacker just hacks your phone while bypassing the password request (and they can do that), the data will be completely illegible. Just look at the recent controversy between Apple and the FBI on breaking into a terrorist’s Apple phone, and that should give an idea of how hard it can be to break into an encrypted phone.
Encryption can do a lot to protect your phone’s data and the good news is that all iPhones and newer Android versions come with their phone automatically encrypted once you set a password (tip: set a password for your phone). But if you have an older version, you will have to encrypt it yourself by going into the security section of your phone’s settings.
5. Be careful using public Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Public Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are easy to use, but they are an easy gateway for hackers to get into your mobile phones. As CNN notes, hackers can trick your phones into connecting to spoof Wi-Fi or Bluetooth accounts which just end up sending all your cell phone’s data right to the hacker. Hackers can also take advantage of vulnerabilities in Bluetooth software as another way into your cellphone.
So try to rely on your phone’s 4G network instead of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and never let your phone automatically connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots. If you do, then it is possible for hackers to realize your phone is connected and hack in even while you have no idea that your phone is connecting to the Wi-Fi network in the first place.
Featured photo credit: phuketphotographer.net via flickr.com