It never ceases to amaze me just how powerful our mobile devices are. I’ve been around a bit and can remember when they were called PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant) and Palm Computing was the lead dog in the race. They were cool for their time but only good for contacts, notes and your calendar. You’ve come a long way baby :)
Now mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and wearables are truly computing devices that rival the power of high end pc’s and workstations. As such we do much more with them and so the importance of protecting the information stored on them cannot be understated.
Have you accessed your bank account from your iPhone? Sent and received emails with who knows what information in them? How about logging into multiple social media accounts and apps with the same user name and password? Uh huh, thought so.
Think about it, just about everyone you know or will ever meet is very likely to have at least a smartphone, if not several mobile devices. Don’t you think hackers and crooks know that too? The information stored on your device is valuable and everyone knows it, the only question is, can they get to it?
We would like to give you some tips on things you can do, simple things really, to help keep your information safe and private. Most of these tips are just plain and simple common sense. The problem most people have is not that they don’t know how to protect themselves, they either just don’t think about it or, probably worse, they don’t think it’s a problem, until it’s too late.
Do you know when most people buy a back up disk or a subscription to a cloud service? Right after their system crashes and they lose irreplaceable file, photos, and more, that’s when.
So don’t wait until the horses are out of the barn, close the door now.
Here are 11 basic things you can do to keep your mobile device and your personal information safe:
- Your iPhone and iPad have passcodes to lock them. Use them. If your device falls into the wrong hands this will wipe them clean if too many incorrect codes are entered. You can then restore your new replacement device from your local or iCloud backup. You did back it up, right?
- Install a highly rated virus protection app to protect your phone from viruses and malware. You do it on your PC (right?), so do it on your other computer, your smartphone.
- After using any app (or web site via a browser) make sure you completely log out when you’re finished with your session. Don’t just close the app or browser.
- Read the comments from others before downloading an app. You might see comments that will make you decide not to download it. Just because the app in in the App Store it doesn’t mean it is 100% safe. Most, of course, are but that’s no reason to be careless.
- Make sure you’re always using the latest versions of all software on your iPhone or iPad. This includes iOS as well as the apps you’ve downloaded, especially any apps having to do with financial or medical accounts.
- Use an app that is specifically designed to manage passwords. These apps will encrypt them so even if someone were to access the data on your device, they could not read your passwords. If you just jot them down in a notes app they are not encrypted and much more vulnerable.
- Make sure you’ve set up “Find my iPhone” in “Settings” under “iCloud”. This will let you locate your phone, providing the battery isn’t dead, from your iCloud account (accessed from a browser on your Mac or PC). Once in iCloud you can also opt to wipe your device if you determine it can’t be recovered.
- When using your device to access accounts in a public place, be aware of others looking on. These “shoulder surfers” may see info they shouldn’t.
- When you’re ready to move up to the next generation of your device (did someone say “iPhone 6”?), whether you’re going to sell it or trade it, make sure you reset it to the factory settings so all of your personal data is wiped clean.
- Beware of phishing scams. If you use email on your iPhone or iPad, make sure to use the same safeguards as you do on your Mac or PC regarding avoiding email scams. Do not open emails from people you don’t know and, even if it’s from someone you do know, don’t click on any links. If the email is about ebay, for example, go to your ebay app or open another browser tab and key in the url yourself.
- Remember that public WiFi is just that, public. Anyone who is on the same network can, with the right app or software, see who else is on it and what they’re doing. If you’re doing any type of sensitive work or accessing your bank account, it’s much safer to use your cellular data and, if needed, turn your phone into a hotspot for your WiFi iPad.
There are certainly more things you can do, but like anything, covering the basics will go pretty far.
So enjoy using your iDevice and always remember, someone is trying to steal your information.