Security is a major concern for everyone. So, if you always lock your front door or your car, why not your mobile phone?
If you aren’t already doing it, you must make sure that you take your smartphone security more seriously. Your device likely contains a lot more crucial information than your car or house combined.
From photos to banking passwords, most of your secrets pass through or are stored somewhere in that handheld treasure box. As such, the mobile phone has become a common target for cybercriminals.
Since phones are used for virtually everything these days, it has made people more vulnerable to cyberthreats. Whether you own a refurbished iPhone or a new Android device, you can fall victim to people with malicious intent if you don’t practice these four mobile security rules:
1. Keep Your Device Locked
Locking is a traditional method of keeping unauthorized people out of your home and vehicle, so it’s only natural for you to use the same tactic on your smartphone.
If you didn’t lock your phone and it gets lost, stolen, or left unattended, there would be nothing to prevent other people from accessing its contents. And when they have your personal information, it can lead to unwanted phone calls or messages — or worse, identity theft and bank fraud.
From passcodes, to PINs, to pattern locks, there are plenty of ways to secure mobile phones. Depending on your device’s capabilities, you may even use biometric security like face recognition and fingerprint unlocking features to keep your phone secure.
When activating your lock screen, you can choose how long the phone can remain idle before it automatically gets locked. Always choose the shortest amount of time as it would ensure that your device is inaccessible to other people, even if you forget to lock it. Plus, you can also save your battery since the screen will go dark after the assigned time has passed.
2. Choose a Secure Password
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of ways to secure your phone from unauthorized access. PINs offer a numeric alternative to passwords and are easier to remember. Pattern locks allow you to select a pattern to gain access, which is a lot easier and faster since you can complete it with a single stroke on the screen.
However, many still argue that passwords remain the most reliable security lock access code, especially for mobile phones.
Obviously, this doesn’t refer to easy-to-guess codes like “password” and “123456,” among other common phrases. When choosing a password, you’ll have to make sure it has two specific characteristics: it should be difficult to guess (for others) and easy to remember (for you).
Below are some tips you can try when selecting a strong password that fits the bill:
Use Password Managers
If you’re someone who has a hard time remembering passwords, then what you need is the help of password managers.
There are plenty of websites, apps, and platforms people use today. Considering this, it can be difficult to memorize every single one of the passwords you used without duplicating codes or using a certain pattern that makes them easy to guess.
With password managers, all you need to memorize is one strong master password to ensure that your other passwords are secure and still accessible. Plus, password managers have plenty of great features you can use like password changers, security dashboards, and many others.
Follow the Gold Standard in Weaving a Strong Password
Passwords have always been the go-to for many people, even before smartphones were invented. Traditionally, a strong password has to have several characteristics:
- It must be long. While no specific password length is universally accepted as the minimum, you can go with 12 to 14 characters for your passwords. The longer you can make it, the better.
- It must have a combination of different characters. Make sure that you use different types of characters to make your passcode more challenging to crack. If the app or website allows, include letters (both upper and lower case), numbers, and special characters (e.g., symbols and punctuation) in your passwords.
- It should not be a dictionary word or a combination of such. Steer clear of dictionary words and combinations thereof. Logical combinations such as “red house” or “blue river” can be easily guessed.
- It should not be made out of obvious substitutions. Like dictionary words, avoid using obvious substitutions, like changing the letter “o” with a numeric zero.
3. Steer Clear of Public Networks
Almost all mobile phones have a feature that automatically connects to wireless networks. But while going wireless makes for faster downloads and less data usage costs, you have to be careful where you are accessing it from.
Home and office Wi-Fi hotspots are fine, so long as you keep their access within a limited number of trustworthy people. It’s public Wi-Fi that you need to be wary of.
Remember that any device that can send data across the airwaves is vulnerable to threats. Thankfully, smart devices today mitigate the risk by allowing easy access to wireless connectivity controls when not in use. Besides extending your battery, shutting off Wi-Fi connectivity can also help you keep malicious parties at bay.
To make sure your phone is secure, it is worth browsing through your device’s network security settings. If it isn’t already set as such, configure the settings so that the automatic connection to a wireless network is turned off.
4. Only Use Secure Online Payment Channels
Besides people’s personal information, another thing that cyber criminals typically steal is credit card or bank information. Money is indeed the root of this evil.
Considering this, you have to be extra vigilant when paying things or accessing your financial information via your mobile phone. Fortunately, you don’t have to avoid online shopping or any other financial transactions made through your device altogether.
What you can do is to stick to secure shopping platforms and online payment channels. Besides the well-known online remittance service providers and official bank apps, there are also shop now, pay later payment options you can choose to make your online shopping both convenient and secure.
Just remember to read the fine print. The terms and conditions that come with these providers should be able to let you know the extent of security you’ll be getting from using their services.
Live a Cyber-Secure Life
Apart from your PC, your mobile device holds more sensitive information about you, your finances, and your life than any other item, so it is crucial that you guard it well. From something as simple as keeping your phone password-locked to sticking to secure online payment methods, follow these mobile security rules to lead a cyber-secure life.
Mirza Saqib Habib is the Business Manager at Dubai-based Teckzu, the perfect one-stop shop to discover, browse, and buy new and refurbished electronics such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and accessories. Mirza comes from a strong E-commerce background with over 6 years of regional experience. He has helped kick-start many startups in the past and is passionate about using technology to facilitate a seamless digital user experience.