Smartphones are becoming more like mini-computers every day, yet people tend to forget that these devices, like most computers, are susceptible to viruses, malware, and security threats.
Are your smartphone habits compromising your personal security and livelihood?
Here are 8 security mistakes you could be making on your smartphone, along with ways to combat these common oversights:
1. Failing to Update Software
Software and firmware updates can be annoying when they pop up and interfere with something you’re trying to do, but failing to accept these updates can leave your device vulnerable to security threats.
Software updates are often released to address new, impending security threats, so think twice before choosing to update later, or ignoring the update altogether.
2. Using Public Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi networks often provide faster data speeds than mobile networks, which is why most users set their network preference to Wi-Fi by default. Your at-home Wi-Fi network may be secure, but avoid using public Wi-Fi networks at venues such as coffee shops and airports.
The information you send and receive via public Wi-Fi networks can be seen by hackers, so stick to using your mobile data network at all times, unless the Wi-Fi network is private and secure.
3. Remembering Passwords Automatically
While it’s convenient to select the “Always Remember Password” option when signing into email, online shopping sites, and your bank account, this can leave your personal information vulnerable in the event your smartphone is lost or stolen.
Instead of allowing websites and apps to remember your passwords automatically, invest a few extra moments in manually typing in your password to protect your security.
4. Rooting and Jail-breaking
Rooting your Android or jail-breaking your iOS device provides you with full developer’s access to your phone’s root files and folders, and lifts built-in security restrictions. If you’re not careful, rooting and jail-breaking can lead to the installation of malware, viruses, and spyware.
5. Clicking on Unfamiliar Links
Strange, unfamiliar links that pop up in text messages and emails could be rogue links, which are deceptive links that can infect your device and trick you into revealing sensitive personal information.
Never click on unfamiliar links, even when sent by friends and family. In many cases, rogue links are more difficult to spot on mobile devices, especially when featured on websites that still aren’t mobile-friendly or haven’t been mobile-optimized.
6. Installing Malicious Apps
When searching for and downloading new apps, stick to your smartphone’s official app store, such as Google Play Store on Android and App Store on iOS. Downloading apps from third-party sources may not be safe or trustworthy, and could result in the unwanted installation of malware.
7. Replying to Texts from Strangers
While it’s possible you don’t have all numbers of friends and family saved to your contact list, be wary of text messages you receive from unfamiliar phone numbers. Don’t take the risk of asking who the sender is, since this alerts hackers and malicious third parties that your phone number belongs to a real person.
Instead, ignore and delete the text; if it’s someone you truly know, they’ll tell you who it is, or try to get in touch with you using a different method.
8. Failing to Use Security Software
If you’re brave enough to install apps from third-party sources and tend to unknowingly click on strange links, consider installing security software. This helps protect your security in the event you accidentally do something that puts you at risk when using your smartphone.
Browse security apps in your smartphone’s official app store, and take ratings and reviews into consideration before installing. While some experts claim security software isn’t necessarily required for most smartphones, taking this extra step could offer the cushion you need to stay protected.