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12 Ways To Secure Your Smartphone

12 Ways To Secure Your Smartphone

How secure is your smartphone? If you’re like most people, it probably isn’t as secure as you think it is. While we’ve been absorbing desktop privacy and protection advice for decades, mobile is still a relatively new phenomenon. People simply aren’t aware of the amount of data and private information that their phone is transmitting, sharing, and processing all the time. This has led to a growth in mobile device hacking and malware downloads, as the morally unscrupulous exploit the technological naivety of their fellow gadget users.

Can you tell if you’ve been hacked or downloaded something bad? Sometimes, but a lot of the time users are in the dark about whether their mobile security has been compromised–and often they find out too late.

You should care more about your mobile safety. To help you be more proactive, here are some tips to boost your smartphone security.

1. Use a passcode lock

This is an absolute must. If your phone is lost or stolen, not using a passcode lock means you’re giving a complete stranger instant access to a range of sensitive information, including notes, contacts, and appointments. Use a memorable code and make sure your phone auto-locks after a set period of time.

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2. Stay off unsecured Wi-Fi

It’s long been known that using unsecured public Wi-Fi is a bad idea, and yet many of us are still happy to connect in cafes and bars. This makes it easy for hackers to gain access to your data via Wi-Fi connections, and to use that information against you without you realising it. Avoid networks without the padlock icon.

3. Beware unofficial apps

There are plenty of respectable third-party apps that use a domain’s API to create their own mobile version of the site (i.e. Hootsuite for Twitter or Alien Blue for Reddit). But before you download a knock-off of Flappy Bird or Minecraft, learn how to spot fakes so you’re confident it’s a legitimate app.

4. Update your operating system

Android has historically experienced more hacks, malware, and trojans because users aren’t updating to the latest OS. Last year, the BBC revealed that less than half of Android users were running the most up-to-date software. In comparison, more than 93% of Apple users were running the latest version of iOS. This left Android users more vulnerable, and serves as a lesson to pay attention to those update messages.

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Beware of rogue messaging apps

    5. Avoid storing passwords

    Setting your apps to remember passwords and login information is convenient, but it’s also making it easier for hackers and scammers to access your private accounts. In reality, most of us aren’t going to log out of our email and social media apps/sites, but make sure you never leave pre-completed login details on your banking apps/sites.

    6. Remove home address information

    As time goes on, our devices increasingly ‘want’ more of our personal data to find the most relevant contextual information for us. A classic example is knowing your home address so applications can get personalised travel updates and local recommendations. This is an added security issue if your smartphone’s security is compromised. Avoid bookmarking, dropping map pins, or creating any other kind of record of where you live on your smartphone.

    7. Download mobile protection software

    It’s a good idea to make sure you’re always protected against the most common forms of mobile malware, spyware, and any other kind of digital nasty that could end up killing your device or stealing your personal data. There are a variety of apps you can download; some providers, such as AVG, offer free and paid versions.

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    AVG for mobile

      8. Customize your phone

      Not all of us are techie enough to jailbreak our devices, but if you are this could detract or simply confuse most thieves to ensure you’re a lot safer. By using bespoke icons and renaming apps you could create a baffling experience for a low-tech criminal.

      9. Take control of your app permissions

      A lot of apps you download want to access information from other apps and sites. Pay close attention to what permissions you’re giving away when you download anything, and regularly audit your apps and related permissions as sites often amend their terms and conditions of use.

      10. Add anti-theft precautions

      What do you do if your phone is stolen? Be prepared by getting yourself set up with a good anti-theft or security tool. It’s also worth knowing that Apple’s Find My iPhone and Android’s Device Manager both help you track down your smartphone if it is lost or stolen.

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      Apple's Find My iPhone

        11. Backup, backup, backup

        There are more ways you could try and secure your smartphone, but ultimately nothing will protect you from a sophisticated and determined hack or theft attempt. The right approach is to backup your data on a regular basis to limit the impact of losing control or possession of your phone.

        12. Enable remote wipe

        Finally, ensure that you have the power to remotely wipe your data. This ensures that if your smartphone security is ever compromised, you can always go for the nuclear option.

        Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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        Last Updated on February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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