Your phone contains sensitive information about you, your finances, and your family. It is critical to protect this information from falling into the wrong hands. As the owner, there are several one-time changes you can make and ongoing habits you should learn to keep your mobile phone secure.
Setting up Security on Your Mobile Phone
The first and most important thing you should do to protect your mobile phone is to set up a lock screen with a password, PIN, or pattern. That way, if your phone is stolen or you lose it, all of the information on the phone will not be automatically available to whoever has it. Adjust your phone's settings so it locks just a minute or two after being used. If you delay the locking process, you risk having it fall into the wrong hands before it is locked.
Even if you have the best intentions, the chances are that at some point, your phone will become separated from you. Make it easier to recover if it is lost by activating a tool to locate your phone remotely. Also, you want a feature on the lock screen that allows someone who finds your phone to have sufficient contact information to get in touch with you. If you store particularly sensitive information on your phone, consider signing up for a service that allows you to wipe your phone remotely if needed.
Best Practices for Mobile Phone Security
Update your software whenever a new operating system or fixes to your current one are available. The updates often address security loopholes, so it is important for you to have the latest version to give your phone the best possible protection. It is also a good idea to update apps, particularly banking apps, whenever they release new versions.
Only download apps from trusted sources, and pay attention to the permissions that apps request. For example, you may notice that an app requires access to your complete browsing history, GPS location, and all of your text messages. Unless the app has good reasons to have this information and you fully trust the developer, you probably want to avoid it.
Use caution on unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Do not allow your phone to connect automatically to any available open network, and when you do connect, pay attention to what websites you visit and apps you use over that connection. Any information you send or receive is vulnerable to interception, so save your banking for a secured network.
Log out after making purchases, and don't store passwords on your phone. If someone can get past your lock screen, you do not want them to have open access to all of your accounts. They could run up some serious bills if your login is active on shopping sites with stored credit or debit card information.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Don't use the same PIN or password on your lock screen that you use elsewhere. You unlock your phone all the time, and if someone is watching, you do not want them to have information that he or she could then use to hack into your other accounts. While it may be tempting just to use the same PIN as your ATM card, that is not a number you want to have floating around. Remember that your address is not a very secure PIN either.
Don't recycle or trade in your phone without fully wiping it. You may think that you do not have to worry about security once the phone is not yours, but traces of information on the phone could be enough to leave you vulnerable. Complete a full wipe and reset the internal memory to factory settings before letting the phone go.