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How to Protect Your Privacy on Your Mobile Devices

How to Protect Your Privacy on Your Mobile Devices

These days, smartphones are a one-stop payment, personal health, work, gaming, productivity, texting, tweeting, Facebook-checking machine. We use them to do just about everything, from mobile banking to navigating new places, to emailing out last minute notes on a project.

But whether it’s hacked browsers, petty thieves at the coffee shop, or your own tendency to lose electronics in cabs (hey, it happens to the best of us), using your smartphone as a centralized source for all of your information comes with big risks, and the more you’ve connected and stored, the more you stand to lose. In fact, in the last year alone, at least 7.1 million phones were lost or stolen

That’s bad news, not only for individuals but for countless businesses as well, particularly if they have BYOD policies, because each individual phone and carrier really varies in their level of security.

It’s no wonder, then, that so many individuals and businesses are starting to take mobile security seriously. Let’s take a look at few steps you can take to keep your phone—and its wealth of personal data—secure.

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1. Use a Passcode

This may sound obvious, but according to a Consumer Reports survey, 64% of us don’t use our passcodes. (For the record, using the factory set passcode totally doesn’t count.) Quite frankly, not using a passcode is a horrible idea. You’re essentially handing over all of your personal information to anyone who swipes your phone.

When you set up your passcode, use the same security measures you would on any other device, such as not using your birthday or social security number for your passcode, and definitely not “1234.” Never share your passcode with anyone, even if they ask nicely or give you sad, puppy eyes. Don’t reuse passwords from other sites or devices.

While this is a subject of debate, most experts think it’s best to go with a pin rather than the swipe patterns, as the chances of guessing a pin are much lower than guessing a pattern. But hey, if it gets you locking your phone, either choice is fine.

2. Be Selective With Your Apps

That new app might look great, but with so many unknown third party providers out there, it can be difficult to know how private and secure it may be. For that reason, it’s best to go through a trusted app store like iTunes, Android Market or Amazon, and to thoroughly check reviews before downloading any app and entering your personal information.

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Be particularly cautious with financial apps, the best of which shouldn’t require you to repeatedly enter account information in order to access your account.

3. Don’t Click on Suspicious Links

Maybe it’s those tiny, almost indecipherable screens, maybe it’s a false sense of security, but for some reason, people are three times more likely to click on suspicious links on their cell phone than on a PC. Our best advice for that? Don’t do it. Look more carefully at the URL, especially if they’re asking you to enter personal information. Most banks have a page explaining what they will and will not ask for. Do your research before divulging your personal details.

4. Enable Remote Wiping

Should your phone ever be lost or stolen, it would be great to erase your important data from afar. You can do this through remote wiping, and it’s relatively easy to do on most devices. An iPhone, for example, simply requires you to do enable “Find My Phone” on the device and to sign up for an iCloud account, which will be your command central when it’s time to wipe.

There are some concerns about corporations using location tracking software like this to infringe upon personal privacy rights. Look up the company’s policy, and make sure it’s something you’re comfortable with, before getting it all set up.

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5. Keep Software Up to Date

Software updates often patch security and privacy holes users have found as they’ve tested the software out in the real world. Keeping your software up to date will mean you’ll have the very latest solutions. That said, sometimes it makes sense to wait a week, or two, before installing the latest versions to see if there are any problems with rollouts.

6. Use Security Applications

Both Spyware and Malware are becoming an increasingly formidable problem for mobile phone users. They track your whereabouts, send out your personal information, and slow down your phone. It can be difficult to avoid downloading these, and users often don’t know they’re running. To combat this, install security software, just like you might have on your computer, to protect your privacy against any unbeknownst mischief. Make sure that you keep this software up to date.

7. Stay Off of Open Wi-Fi Networks

Since smartphones are now acting like mini-PCs, avoid unknown open Wi-Fi networks, just like you would on your PC. As you type, malicious hotspots can transmit your credit card information and passwords without you even knowing it.

8. Write Down Your IMEI

Every phone has a fifteen digits serial number called an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity), which can come in handy if your phone is ever lost or stolen. You’ll find it behind your phone’s battery or in the settings. It’s well worth writing down, as it can speed the process of getting the phone back to you.

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9. Back Up Your Phone Regularly

Backing up your phone means you’ll always have access to all of your photos, music, apps and whatever else. This is of course important in case your phone gets lost or stolen, but it can also come in handy when you’re doing an OS update and experience a loss of data (it happens). Make sure to backup at least once a day for the best results, or consider using automatic syncing with a cloud program.

10. Guard the Data on Your Sim Card

If you decide to sell your cell phone, there are a number of things you should do before shipping it off to a stranger. One of the most important is to remove both your SIM and your SD card, both of which contain a wealth of data. Do this when sending your phone in for repairs, as well, particularly if you don’t know your repair shop well.

The Takeaway

There are many security risks for smartphone users today, and these risks will continue to grow along with the devices’ popularity. Protect your phone, your data, and yourself by implementing just a few simple measures. Good luck, and stay safe.

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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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