Cell Phone Security: Simple Tips and Tricks

Smartphones have changed the game. Every day, we walk around with personal messages, work correspondence, family photos, and even banking information on one tiny device in our pocket. While convenient, it’s important to secure your device. Android malware, viruses, and even basic theft pose a threat to your data.

Thankfully, there are a few simple steps you can take to better protect yourself, your data, and your cell phone.

Set Up A Unique Password

A unique password keeps strangers from unlocking your device. There are a variety of password options available depending on your phone model, whether patterns, pins, fingerprints, and even face recognition. Next step – make sure your password, pin, or pattern can’t be easily guessed. It may be tempting to use “password” as your password or your birthday as your PIN, but this is not advisable. A tip? Make your password a sentence! And remember, no matter what kind of password you choose, changing it every 6 months provides additional protection.

Don’t Download From Just Anywhere

Once your device is password protected, the next step is to look at where you are downloading your phone’s apps. When you add an app to your phone, always download it from a verified source like the Google Play Store. Google devices automatically include Google Play Protect, which runs a safety check on apps, providing an extra layer of protection. It also proactively checks your device for potentially harmful apps that you might have downloaded someplace else.

Read the Fine Print

As the saying goes, you should never sign anything without reading it first. This includes app permissions and fine print. An app you downloaded to play a game or order a pizza could be accessing information that it doesn’t need, including your contact lists, photos, and location. Making sure your apps don’t have access to anything non-essential can help you secure your information. Don’t remember the last time you used a certain app? Delete it! Apps you aren’t using take up valuable space on your phone and leave your information vulnerable.

Don’t Wait to Update

When you get an alert that your phone’s Operating System (OS) has a new update, don’t wait to implement it. Phone companies have teams of developers constantly working to fix bugs that could affect your phone. Each update often gives you an added layer of protection. If you wait, you could be leaving your device open to bugs that android malware can exploit to get your information.

Install Find My Device

Now that you’ve protected your phone, you might feel great. But it won’t help too much if you can’t find your phone and think someone might have stolen it. Be sure to download Find my Device, an app that lets you lock and locate your phone remotely. That way, even if you find it in the couch cushions, you can breathe a sigh of relief that no one had the chance to access your data.

Want more information on how to protect your personal information? Read up on 4 common mobile phone scams & how to avoid them.

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Notable Replies

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the post about phone security. I have a question I would like your opinion on concerning an app. I work at a community college in Adult Ed. The program wants us to use a phone app called Full Measure. To get set up as an instructor, we have to input several items of personal information: name, birth date, SSn (Yes!), and address. I cannot believe this information is necessary, but I have tried to set up an account without it and it goes back to the missing information. This seems like a very dangerous thing to do since I don’t know where the info is going. Maybe the security is poor. What do you think?

  2. jon123 says:

    You could ask the school why it is necessary, if payments for instance come from them they would need that. The app looks like it hasnt been updated for a year… I personally have no problem fudging those numbers when people ask for them, absolutely no need to have that info… That is what I would do, unless I understand the need for data, there is no need to give them the info… Have fun…

  3. erinm says:

    There is something seriously wrong with your Network Administrator asking for your SSN to operate an app required for you job. That is a very big Red Flag security wise. Does the app also require your birth date, bank account numbers, credit numbers with expiration dates, etc.? I have found that asking for your SSN is simply an outdated custom and isn’t necessary. Talk with your Network Administrator and find out why this is being required. He or She can’t legally use it for identification purposes.

  4. I agree this is way too much information for an app. Very rarely do I encounter anything that asks for SSN unless official tax or government forms.

  5. I can find my device using my computer and typing “find my device”. Why would I need an app on my phone? I certainly wouldn’t need it, would I ? If the phone is lost, I wouldn’t be using the app on my phone to find it. Is there a reason that I would need this app, since Google already finds it via my computer?

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