Small Screen, Big Risk

If you access personal information on your phone, others can too. Unfortunately, the same things that make our mobile devices useful - their small size, convenience, and capacity to give us instant access to information - also make them vulnerable to theft, either of the devices themselves or the data they contain.

However, there are steps you can take to protect your personal information! Here are some recommendations to make your mobile device more secure:

  1. Set a strong password.

    Because it's inevitable that your phone will not be in your possession at all times, it's critical to makes sure your screen is set to lock automatically and to have a password that is hard to guess. This is especially important in the event that your device is stolen. Don't make it easy for thieves to get to your personal information. Use a long password of at least 9 characters or more, containing a mix of different character types -- upper and lower case letters, numbers, punctuation marks, etc. It will be harder to crack or to observe by "shoulder surfing." Go here for tips on creating a strong password.
  2. Lock your screen.

    A password won't do much good if you don't set your screen to lock automatically. Make sure you set your device to lock automatically after a few minutes of idle time, and lock it manually when you set it down. To auto-lock your screen:
    • iOS: Go to Settings -> General -> Auto-Lock, then choose a (short) time interval.
    • Android: Go to Settings -> My Device -> Lock screen -> Secured lock time, then select instantly with the power key or when the screen times out. Then go to Settings -> My Device -> Display -> Screen Timeout and choose how long you want the screen to stay open before it locks.
  3. Encrypt your device.

    This will make it harder to access your personal information in the unfortunate event of theft. Remember that encryption only helps you if your device is locked.
    • iOS: All iOS devices are already encrypted.
    • Android: Make sure to have a password set. Then go to Settings -> Security -> Encrypt Phone/Device.
  4. Set up remote access.

    If your phone is lost or stolen, you can still protect your privacy if you set up remote access that allows you to locate, lock, and erase the date on your phone remotely. Try Android Device Manager or Find my iPhone to enable remote access on your device. Be sure to regularly back up the data on your device so it's not gone forever!
  5. Install antivirus

    Because your mobile device can get viruses, too. Lookout and avast! are both good options to protect against malware and other online threats, and are available for free. Be sure to use an antivirus app from the Google Play Store or App store that is well-known - there are fakes ones out there.
  6. Enable automatic updates.

    Keep your device's operating system updated to avoid the latest vulnerabilities. To make sure updates happen automatically:
    • iOS: Go to Settings -> iTunes & App Store, then under Automatic Downloads, slide Updates to the right to turn on this feature.
    • Android: Go to the Google Play Store, tap the Menu button and go into Settings -> Auto-update apps.
  7. Practice safe browsing and downloads.

    Avoid suspicious links, unexpected email attachments, and third-party apps that may not be legitimate. Some malware can actually disguise itself as a mobile app and then be used to steal your personal information when you install it. Pay attention to what permissions the app asks for when you install it, and only get apps from a legitimate source.
  8. Disable network features when not in use.

    Temporarily turning off features such as WiFi or Bluetooth will protect your device from attackers looking to abuse open connections. iOS users can turn these features off via the Settings page. On Android devices, they can be disabled quickly by swiping down the Notification Bar at the top of the Home Screen.
  9. Back up your data regularly.

    If the data on your device contains confidential or sensitive information, be sure to choose a solution that you trust to store your data securely.
    • iOS: iOS Devices can be backed up using either iCloud or by connecting your device to a computer and using iTunes. Go here for more information on backing up and restoring your data.
    • Android: In the Google Play Store, there are several apps available for backing up your device, including Carbon, Helium Premium, G Cloud Backup, or MyBackup Pro. You can find more information on how to back up your Android device here.
  10. Wipe your phone's data before switching devices.

    If you are upgrading your phone or mobile device, make sure you completely erase its data before donating, exchanging, or disposing of it (back it up first!).
    • iOS: iOS Devices can be reset to factory settings by going to Settings -> General -> Reset, and then choose Erase All Content and Settings
    • Android: Android Devices can be reset to factory settings by going to Settings -> Accounts -> Backup and Reset and then selecting Factory data reset.
  11. If you have questions about how to keep your mobile device secure, contact us!