Tips & Advice

9 tips everyone forgets to follow on their smartphone

Charlotte Empey, 10 March 2019

Follow these handy tips to enjoy your smartphone while still protecting your privacy

Statisticians estimate the number of cell phones in the world to be about 5 billion, with smartphones constituting about half of them. That’s 2.5 billion smartphones in use, which means a good third of the world’s population is texting, FaceTiming, sending and receiving pictures, and otherwise using their phones for more than just talking. Even if you were late coming to the smartphone party, you are most likely using that smart mobile device every day now, accumulating lots of personal data.  So, you may be thinking, “how do I keep my smartphone safe and secure?”

Just follow these 9 tips for mobile protection and you’re on your way to smartphone best practices that protect your privacy in safe and sane ways.

1. Lock your device with a passcode

Without this first layer of security in effect, anyone who picks up your phone can access your apps and the data held within. Set a passcode that only you know, and simply tap it in before you use your phone. For those devices that allow it, you can also set a “touch ID” that opens the phone in response to your fingerprint or set a “face ID” that unlocks a phone when the front facing camera recognizes you.

2. Avoid suspicious links

Any link you receive in an email or text should be looked at with a suspicious eye. If you don’t know the sender, don’t even think about clicking on the link. If you do know the sender, make sure they did indeed send it before you click. False email, text, and message accounts pretending to be a person or entity you know is a common cybercriminal trick, and it’s known as phishing. Don’t take the bait.

3. Update your software immediately

Whenever an update is released for your device, download and install it right away. These updates often include security fixes, vulnerability patches, and other necessary maintenance.

4. Use unique passwords for EVERY account online

Avoid reusing any passwords. When cybercriminals get a user’s password in their grasp, they try that password for every one of the user’s accounts. Don’t give them that kind of skeleton key. Best practice is to use a password manager to create unique, hard-to-crack passwords. The advantage with a password manager is that it remembers all your passwords for you. Another option is to use memorable sentences or “pass phrases” that you can remember.  If you need to write them down, do so, but store them away from your computer.

5. Use a VPN on open Wi-Fi networks

It’s hard to avoid using open Wi-Fi — you’re busy, you’re out and about, and you need to do some online transactions.  Here’s a common scenario: you happen to be at a coffee shop and so you connect your phone to their unprotected Wi-Fi network and make your purchase or do a banking transaction on your mobile phone. We’ve all been there. So, if you must use open Wi-Fi in a situation like this, get a VPN app for your mobile device. It makes you anonymous online, so you can use open Wi-Fi safely hidden from the eyes of lurking cybercriminals.

6. Download apps from reputable app stores

Use only the official app stores — Apple App Store if you have an iPhone or iPad, and Google Play store if you have an Android device. It’s all too common for malware developers to create fake malicious apps and put them up on shady third-party sites, hoping someone will be naive enough to download them. Official app stores have a more stringent vetting process.

7. Backup your data to the cloud

You will save yourself a lot of headache if you keep an ongoing backup of your phone. That way, if it’s ever lost or stolen, you still have all the apps, data, and accounts up to date in your backup.

8. Enable remote wiping of your phone.  

As an extension of the peace-of-mind from the last step, if your phone is lost or stolen, you can wipe out all your personal data from its memory remotely. (And you don’t have to worry about losing that data because you have your handy backup from Tip 7.) You can learn more about how to erase your iPhone remotely and erase your Android device remotely on their respective webpages.

9. Use a security app

Keeping all the above tips in mind will keep you well on your guard, and installing astrong security app will take you the rest of the way to full protection. Cybersecuritysoftware works nonstop in the background making sure no unknown programs or filessneak onto the device. Avast has one of the largest security engines in the world,protecting a global network of hundreds of millions of users. Protect your data and yourpeace-of-mind by installing Avast Mobile Security for iOS or Avast Mobile Security for Android.

There is no reason you shouldn’t enjoy the fun and convenience of smartphones. Any new technology requires a new lesson in safety. Just remember these tips, and you can confidently enjoy the excitement of today’s newest tools.