An Up-To-Date List of Smartphone Security Tips

After the recent news of a new security bug, I decided it was time for an updated, extensive list of smartphone security tips. iPhones and Android phones require conscious efforts to protect yourself from identity theft and malicious malware.

Smartphone security

Here we go over tips for iPhones and Android phones you’ll want to implement immediately.

iPhone Security

#1 – Always lock your phone.

This one seems a little too simple for this list, but it is definitely one that is all too often overlooked so I really couldn’t leave it out.

Choose a passcode that you’ll remember, but not one that is common like 1234, 0000, 2580, or 1111. Using a common passcode means a thief has a one in seven* chance of unlocking your phone.

Additionally, don’t use your personal information in your code. Using your birth date, relationship anniversary or another personal date greatly increases the thief’s chances at unlocking your phone.

#2 – Use the iPhone Touch ID capability. 

iPhone Touch ID

Touch ID not only makes purchasing apps in the App Store much easier, it makes your phone safer. Hackers and thiefs cannot unlock your phone using your unique fingerprint.

You can also use Touch ID with a variety of apps. DropBox, Amazon, Evernote, and even several bank apps.

You’ll want to watch out and make sure you’ve limited what Siri can reveal when the phone is locked, however. Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > Allow Access When Locked. Choose which information can be communicated when the screen is locked.

#3 – Avoid attacks. Turn off notifications on the lock screen. 

There is a known malicious iMessage bug that can crash your iPhone in the iOS 8.4 update.

All someone has to do is send you a certain set of text characters that will crash your iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, or Mac. Turning off notifications while the screen is locked helps prevent this issue.

apple-offers-temporary-fix-imessage-bug-crashes-iphones-permanent-fix-works-1943570

#4 – What to do with controversial location services. 

Nowadays, everyone wants to know where you are and what you’re doing. This provides valuable data to advertising organizations so they can better target ads towards you.

iphone location privacy

Unfortunately, your exact location is personal information that almost no one wants to share – and for good reason.

There is a variety of apps that enable geo-tagging or track your location without making it obvious that they are recording this information. Even some you might not think would want that information.

Recently, Spotify, a popular paid mobile music app, revealed their new privacy policy and quickly followed it up with an apology**.

With that said, double triple check which apps are recording your location information.

#5 – Update when they tell you to. 

Updates come out for a reason. They try to stay ahead of the curve (of hackers).
iOS updates include patches for vulnerable areas in the software. iPhone updates are not automatically installed so that is something to keep in mind. I’d recommend checking your phone once a month to see if there are any updates available.

#6 – Don’t jailbreak your iPhone. 

Jailbreaking is essentially hacking into your iPhone to control and edit the limits that Apple created. Jailbreaking often increases your iPhones usability. However, it exposes your device to more malware and viruses because applications can run without an Apple verification process.

jailbroken iphone

Updating your phone means the settings the made it jailbroken will be removed and replaced with an updated iOS. Thus, it makes keeping your jailbroken iPhone inconvenient and lessens the likelihood that you’ll keep your phone updated. This further exposes your phone to hackers.

#7 – Stop your iPhone from storing your passwords and credit cards

Do this RIGHT NOW. Go to your iPhone’s settings, then Safari, then Passwords & Autofill. Disable the autofill features for your passwords (or at least remove sites like your bank) and credit cards.
This is a very little known setting that more iPhone users aren’t aware of. Safari will actually store your personal info and credit card information to make it more convenient, but also less safe for you.
And while you’ve got your iPhone settings open, clear out your history, cookies, and cache. It will remove personal information AND clear out some storage room. Simply click the blue text that says “Clear History and Website Data” in the Safari settings.

#8 – Enable the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) setting for your email accounts. 

Without SSL enabled, your emails are not secure and could be compromised. SSL is commonly used by Hotmail or Gmail accounts, but your work email accounts might not be automatically set to this setting.
In Settings, go to Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Select your email account > Click on the account > Click Advanced > Under Incoming Settings, make sure Use SSL is enabled.

#9 – Enable “Find My iPhone.”

The Find My iPhone setting allows you to location your phone if it is ever stolen. Apples uses its iCloud feature to locate your phone. You can also use this feature with an iPad, Mac, or iPod touch.
find my iphone

#10 – Disable “Frequent Locations.”

That’s right. Apple knows your favorite places to be – or at least your more frequented locations. They claim this helps them promote the right products and services.
Frequent Locations iPhone Setting
You’ll want to go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations. you’ve really got to dig deep to find this setting because Apple doesn’t want you to turn it off. It helps them optimize their advertising programs, but also allows them to track you day in and day out and even learn how long you were there.
iPhones aren’t the only devices that need security measures. Android phones also have best security practices to keep in mind.
Android Security

 

Android phones are much more customizable than iPhones, but that also gives you, the user, more responsibility when it comes to securing your phone.

#1 – Encrypt your Android phone.

android encryptionWith an iOS device, using a passcode automatically enables encryption. For Android phones, however, you have to consciously secure your phone. The first time you encrypt your phone it might take up to an hour to process – but it’s worth it.
The FCC announced that smartphone theft occurs 5 times more often in 2012 than in 2002. If someone steals your phone, they could discover personal information that could lead to identity theft. Encrypting your phone’s data is the best way to prevent a thief from using your personal information to steal your identity.
Just one more reason you ought to encrypt your phone with a password system. The California Supreme Court recently ruled that police officers cannot search your encrypted phone without a search warrant.
Apparently, even if you “wipe” your phone clean to get it ready to sell, it still contains precious data*** like passwords, apps, and other personal information. Encrypting your phone jumbles up this data so that it is no longer readable if someone tries to access it.
PRO-TIP: Back up your phone before encrypting it. And don’t interrupt the process or you could lose all your data.

#2 – Only download apps from trusted locations. 

Google Play is a trusted store to download apps from. Looking at reviews and ratings can help you determine the apps legitimacy.
 
Looking at an apps privacy policy is another factor to look at before you download it. Just like the Spotify fiasco, many apps request to track your every move for their use in order to “enhance the user experience.” You want to know exactly what personal information the app wants to record before you download it.

#3 – Turn off your WiFi and Bluetooth® when you’re not actively using them.

And disable automatic connections for your wireless profiles. Forgetting these steps means it’s easier for people to access your device.
android connectivity
Automatically connecting to known networks is extremely convenient. Unfortunately, when your device is constantly sending out signals to find known networks, anyone could claim they are a “known” network and connect to your device.
An added bonus to turning these settings off is that you will greatly increase your phone’s battery life, too.

#4 – Watch what information apps want to gain access to.

Your Android phone has a permission system that notifies you about what information a certain app would like access to. It is up to you to understand whether that information is appropriate to share or not.
Consider using an app like Clueful which advises you about the privacy information you’re about to reveal. This kind of app will let you know how risky a certain app is. High-risk apps may be stealing your passwords and emails!
 details

#5 – Encrypt your text messages over the air. 

Whether you’re a conspiracy theorist or your company communicates high-level information through text, encrypting your Android phone’s text messages could be a good option. iPhone are known to encrypt all iMessages, but Android phones don’t do it automatically.
Encrypting your texts means you’re also preventing possible advertisers from reading your information.
Android users can use an app called TextSecure which encrypts your phone calls and SMS messages. It has an easy setup process and uses a separate log in information for even stronger protection.

#6 – Lock your apps with a password. 

If a thief is able to bypass your phone’s password, having passwords on your most personal apps can be helpful. There are many free apps that will allow you to add passwords. One of the most common apps for this is App Lock. App Lock lets your choose which apps you want to password protect. You can even protect your photos and videos.
passcode
An additional benefit to password protecting your apps is that you can let friends borrow your phone without worrying about what they’ll come across if they are nosy.

#7 – Encrypt your outgoing connection to avoid WiFi hacks.

A VPN for Android phones is a great way to encrypt your incoming and outgoing information if you absolutely MUST connect to a public WiFi connection. It will scramble all of your private and personal information.
An added bonus is it allows you to access popular sites such as Facebook or Pinterest if there are restrictions on the network you’re using.
A VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, works by routing all your outgoing and incoming connection through secure servers in other countries. It also prevents advertisers and hackers from tracking your actions online.

#8 – Backup your phone regularly and enable remote wipe.

If your phone is ever lost or stolen, you’ll want to wipe it clean of all personal information with the remote wipe feature. You can save your photos, videos, and other important files by regularly backing up your phone.
Enable remote wipe by using a device manager like 3CX Mobile Device Manager.
 Take Action
Phones store incredibly personal information. Losing your phone could turn into someone stealing your identity to stack up credit card debt. Use these smartphone security tips to protect yourself against criminals as well as advertisers.

*** Why You Need to Encrypt Your Android Phone Before You Wipe It and Sell It – http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/a15748/android-factory-reset-flaw/