Nine expert-level tips to protect your Android or iOS smartphone from cyber criminals

The use of mobile devices is on the rise. Reports from cyber security companies predict that there will be more than six billion smartphone users soon. Why? Smartphones and tablets are becoming more powerful as companies embrace Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies and allow users to access corporate networks with personal technology. 

However, the increase in usage is accompanied by an explosion of mobile malware. Smartphones are relatively small devices that can be easily lost or stolen, not to mention they’re continuously receiving and sending information, so they represent a clear target for criminals. 

Below are some measures recommended by mobile security experts to protect smartphones from hackers:

  1. Always update your apps and OS

Mobile companies constantly update their software. It is not just for stylistic reasons; they keep improving to help users prevent cyberattacks, intrusions, virus infections, and patching vulnerabilities. 

When you receive an update notice, install it immediately.

  1. Use strong passwords

Use passwords habits that cannot be easily guessed, preferably containing a mixture of numbers, letters, uppercase, lowercase, and special symbols. A strong password should contain between 16 and 20 characters. 

Avoid using your pet’s name or birthday. The same password for everything is also a terrible idea. There are numerous password-generating services online. Use them to change your passwords every six months or anytime you feel exposed to some cybersecurity risk, no matter how minimal it is. 

  1. Keep your smartphone locked

Set a six-digit password (at least) to unlock your device. If this option bothers you, try digital scanning, or facial identification unlock; both are easy-to-use alternatives.

Block access to all apps that contain personal information.

  1. Do not store sensitive files on your smartphone 

Get rid of any personal documents on your smartphone, including emails, bank details, ID scans or any information whose disclosure could cause harm. Disable geotagging features on your gallery.

  1. Personal data on social media? The less, the better

Avoid sharing personal information on your social profiles. We refer to specific addresses, work locations, cell numbers, names of family members, and any details that hackers may use to follow you. Facebook allows you to set controls over your data.

  1. Your phone number is personal data

Do not enter your phone number to any website or app asking you to do so. The more sites you enter your mobile phone, the more exposed to SMS fraud you become. 

  1. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)

Most people ignore it, but it should be a standard security measure. 2FA provides an additional security layer to our online accounts, and it takes just a few seconds to enter these codes. 

  1. Avoid public WiFi networks

Open WiFi networks at shopping malls, cafes, and airports left the doors open to many online risks. Try to use your private connection when possible and disable your WiFi and Bluetooth access whenever you’re not using them. 

If you must use one of these access points, consider downloading a Virtual Private Network (VPN) tool to set a secure tunnel between devices through an encrypted connection. Wisely select your VPN provider.

Avoid clicking on promotional emails, opening suspicious attachments or running updates to any app from an email. Always use the portal of your financial institution for any operation, and never perform any banking action through email.

  1. Beware of mobile malware

Hackers use malicious programs to steal passwords and account information, but you can stop them with an antivirus app for mobile devices.

Mobile antiviruses provide enhanced security by ensuring that the apps, PDF files, images, and other files you download are not infected with malware.

Taking positive steps to protect your smartphone from intruders may seem tedious, but a single oversight could bring you massive problems or even financial losses. Remember, prevention will always be the best solution.