The chances are good that you or someone in your family got a new mobile device this holiday season. For most of us, our mobile devices, loaded with our photos, videos, email, banking information, and even health data, quickly become more personal than our wallets. As a result, they are also increasingly becoming attractive hacking targets. Here are five suggestions to secure your new mobile device and protect your personal information.
Avoid unwanted connections
Bluetooth and WiFi can allow hackers to access your information, so turn them off if you’re not actively using them. When you do connect, be careful what permissions you provide. For example, when you connect your phone to a rental car for hands-free calling, the car will ask you if you want to synchronize your contact list. The answer is no; you don’t want to leave that information behind in the rental car’s system. Connect when you need to, but don’t overshare.
Additional cautionary note: On some phones, turning off Bluetooth using Control Center doesn’t actually turn off Bluetooth connectivity entirely. To fully disable Bluetooth, you have to go to Settings and toggle it off.
Don’t juice up just anywhere
Avoid the temptation to charge your phone through the closest USB port. USB charging kiosks in public locations, such as airports, hotels, and coffee shops, can increase the risk of exposing your device to hackers. Use a wall charger or carry a portable battery pack.
Go beyond the passcode
Many new devices let you use fingerprint or facial recognition to unlock your phone. If that’s an option, use it. No one can steal your fingerprint by looking over your shoulder. For even more security, use apps like Google Authenticator that give you multi-factor authentication and add just seconds to your login process.
Secure your turf
Trust your friends, but don’t trust their phones. It’s not personal, but you have no idea if their phones are infected with malware. Protect your home wireless network and your own devices by setting up a guest Wi-Fi network for friends and family. This keeps your personal network secure from devices you may not trust.
Don’t risk the click
Be aware of social engineering. Hackers always find new and creative ways to trick mobile device users into giving away their personal information. For example, you could receive an email from your bank saying it needs you to verify account information by clicking a button. When you click, you’re asked for your passwords and IDs thereby providing access to your personal information and the money in your accounts. Don’t trust inbound mail or texts. Call the institution using the customer service number on their website and they’ll let you know whether or not there is really an issue.
These tips are like wearing a seatbelt when you’re driving: It doesn’t mean you won’t be involved in an accident, but you will have taken all the precautions you can to protect yourself and your personal information. Here’s to a safe and secure 2018!