Our smartphones hold more personal information on us than any other device that we use. It is information that could easily fall into the hands of a con artist if the phone is stolen one day. The thief could quickly learn a great deal about you by looking at your address book, your messages, images and browser history. He could learn where you live, where you work, who your friends are and so on.
Since a phone is easily misplaced or stolen, it is important to plan in advance for the day it happens. You need to protect yourself from the havoc that the con artist can wreak on your life.
Fortunately, a good degree of basic protection isn’t hard to come by. All you need is to tweak a few basic settings and get a couple of good apps. Your smartphone should be nearly impossible for most intruders to crack open then.
More security for the lock screen
Any smartphone will allow the user to set a password. Android phones offer even more security with their finger gesture passcode system. A passcode is more than just a barrier. If an intruder should try to hack your phone by repeatedly by experimenting with different passcodes, your phone can be programmed to shut them out and then to erase all your data automatically so that they can’t get at it.
Look into getting a lost phone app
The world still doesn’t have a dependable system in place to help locate or disable a lost or stolen phone. There are a few apps that help somewhat, though. With a phone tracker app installed, you can reach your phone to gain a rough idea about its location.
Apple has the appropriately named Find My iPhone app for the iOS that comes preinstalled. The switch to turn it on is found among the settings offered for the iCloud. Should you lose your iPhone one day, you just need to go to the iCloud website to find your phone on a map.
Android users have many app options. Lookout, one of the more popular ones, offers an added investigative feature – it can take a picture of the thief as he uses the phone and email the picture to you. If you hand the picture to the police, it could help them in their investigations. Most phone locator apps on both the iPhone and on Android phones offer a remote data erase feature to help you keep your data from getting into the wrong hands. You could press a button on your computer and make sure that no stranger gets to look at your pictures or email.
Watch out for viruses and other malware
Apple’s Mac computers are famous for being easy to keep free of viruses. The company, apparently, wants to keep its phones just as clean. Apple vets each app before release on the app store. Unfortunately, the Google Play Store is a free for all place. The Android platform, therefore, as is prone to viruses as the Windows computer platform is. According to Lookout, the Android security app maker, about 20 million Android users get malware infections each year.
Once you do get malware, there is no telling what it can do. With one particular kind of malware called tolling , the malware makes it possible for others to place unauthorized charges on your cell phone bill.
You need a phone malware app to get rid of these nasties.
Go easy on the location sharing
Many phone apps depend on being allowed to track your location to function correctly. For instance, if you have a restaurant or movie app, it could use your location to give you the relevant suggestions for which show to catch or where to head for a meal. Photo apps can also use your location to add to metadata on each picture. Both Android and iOS phones allow you to make global settings for which apps get to track your location. You can also turn location tracking off completely.
The more apps you allow access to your location data the more you give away. Should your phone be stolen one day, the thief could easily see where you go each day. You should be careful about not allowing too many apps to track you.
Data encryption can save you
Even if you’ve protected your phone with a password, it only protects against intrusion through the phone’s own user interface. A thief with even a passing knowledge of phones could plug it into a computer and look at everything inside. This is why you need data encryption.
Recent Apple phones have great data encryption by default – both at the hardware and software levels. No thief can get in as long as there is a password. Some high-end Android phones have data encryption, too – usually only software-based, though.
If your phone doesn’t have inbuilt encryption, you could always buy an app for it. SecureSafe and SecureMemo are two of the best regarded names in the business.