6 simple ways to to boost mobile security on your phone

Globally, the mobile phone market has reached saturation of epic proportions. In fact, according to a March 2017 report by the International Data Corporation (IDC), Worldwide Smartphone Forecast 2017-2021″1.53 billion units shipped in 2017, up 4.2% from the 1.47 billion units shipped in 2016. From there, shipments will reach 1.77 billion units in 2021.” Which, to put it bluntly, means that there are, and will continue to be, an awful lot of mobile devices being used around the world.

And while that's great news for anyone who needs to stay connected to friends, family, clients, and colleagues, it also means that due to a similar proliferation of cell phone hacking, your data is more vulnerable than ever. Fortunately, there are a number of simple things that you can do to increase your mobile security, protect your data, and keep your personal information private. Let's take a look:

  • Keep your software (and your apps) up to date. It may sound basic, but keeping our phone's software, and the apps that you've downloaded, up to date is something that many of us simply fail (or forget) to do. Sure, it might take some time, and yes, it could bring some irritating new changes to the interfaces you know and love, but it will also ensure that your phone's security software and your apps are current, which can protect you from hackers, and prevent your personal information from being exploited.
  • Use cloud-based tools that give you access to files across your devices, and are always protected with the latest security software and patches. This not only eliminates the need to regularly check for software updates to critical applications, but it gives you the power to work virtually anywhere – on your phone, laptop, desktop computer or tablet.
  • Be cautious about what you install. We all love new apps – things that make our lives simpler, more productive, or give us an outlet for just a little more fun. However, some apps ask that you grant them permission to read your files, access your camera or listen in on your microphone. Sometimes, those things are necessary, but they also make you vulnerable to hacking. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide whether granting an app such permissions is worth the mobile security risk that it may pose, so consider whether those risks outweigh the benefits and act accordingly.
  • Be leery of free public Wi-Fi. We all love free Wi-Fi, but when it comes to your phone's security, passing on free public Wi-Fi might just be the simplest way to protect phone from being hacked. After all, Wi-Fi networks can easily be spoofed by hackers who are just waiting to maliciously capitalize on your trusting nature, and take advantage of all the information you store on your phone. This happened several years ago during the Sochi Olympics when thousands of people logged into public Wi-Fi, only to unwittingly give hackers access to their phones – and all the data in them.
  • Only charge your phone at home, in your car, or in a secure, trusted space – because public USB charging might not be safe. After all, in addition to providing an electrical current, your USB charging cord can send and receive data. And when that cord is connected to an unknown power source, it could potentially allow hackers to connect to your phone and copy your passwords, banking information, personal contacts, photos, emails, voice and text messages, and any other information stored on your device.
  • Set a device password. As simple as it sounds, making your device difficult to open can stop cell phone hacking before it starts. With a biometric login or a truly challenging passcode, you can make your phone incredibly difficult to open – which can help keep all the information stored in it safer. Of course, if a hacker is determined to break into your phone, there are ways around the system, but by locking your phone automatically (immediately after use), you can gain an additional layer of mobile protection that just might frustrate would-be hackers enough to give up.

Although mobile security is a modern imperative, it doesn't have to be difficult to practice. With a few simple precautions, like keeping your apps and OS up to date, charging your phone in a safe, private space, and setting your lock screen appropriately, you can improve your phone's security and protect the information you rely on.

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The Growth Center does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.