In a time where some of us can’t even fall asleep without having our smartphones within reach, hackers are a bigger threat than ever. This year not just celebrities but the White House, State Department, and countless every day people have had their devices compromised and their personal information stolen. Law enforcement is at risk as well, with new malware systems appearing all the time, ready to exploit a cop’s confidential data.
The thought of what this information could accomplish in the wrong hands is frightening. Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take to make sure your information stays with you where it belongs.
1. Watch which apps you download. In general, do not buy apps from 3rd party app stores. If you have an iPhone, everything on the official app store has been vetted and proven safe. However, if you buy from an untrusted source you are in a sense inviting a stranger into the mobile version of your home. Ask yourself, is it worth losing your private information to download a game on a 3rd party site that could have malicious code? Especially if you have an Android phone or a jailbroken iPhone, be meticulous before you download. Look at the permissions an app requests from you, and ask yourself if it makes sense for the app to have those permissions. If something seems fishy, err on the side of caution.
2. Be careful who you share data with. Other devices can give your device viruses through USB cable. If you’re an apple user, please use official Apple-specific cables, as they have an authentication chip in them to prevent non-trusted items from being transferred. Avoid entering your online bank account or other sites that access your personal information while on public Wifi networks that may not be secure. When enabling Bluetooth, turn off the ‘discoverable’ mode to ensure you’re not being detected by suspicious sources looking for Bluetooth devices in your area. When you access sites that include your personal information, or sites where you’ll be conducting transactions, it’s wise to use the company’s official app instead of the browser version, as official apps are designed to block phishing and other scams.
3. Consider investing in a newer phone, or encrypting your current one. The newest iPhone is encrypted so heavily that not even apple support can un-encrypt it for you! The newest Android phones also come heavily encrypted. Some older phones including Android phones have encryption capabilities that you’ll need to manually turn on; research your specific device and see if there is an encryption option available to you. Other advice includes safeguarding your phone with a password, using a reputable mobile security app, backing up your data regularly, and installing a program that can wipe your phone’s data remotely in case of theft.
With increasingly sophisticated hackers trying to access your sensitive information every day, it’s important to be informed and protect yourself accordingly. Using common sense in combination with the above three steps will help you avoid being hacked, and keep yourself, your family, and your community safer as a a result.
Do you have any extra advice? Add your comment in the form at the bottom of the page.