There’s little rest for your hard-working smartphone. If you’re like many professionals today, you use it for work, play, and a mix of personal business in between. Now, what if something went wrong with that phone, like loss or theft? Worse yet, what if your smartphone got hacked? Let’s try and keep that from happening to you.
Globally, plenty of people pull double duty with their smartphones. In Spain, one survey found that 55% of people use the same phone for a mix of personal and and work activity. The same survey showed that up to half of people interviewed in Japan, Australia, and the U.S. do so as well, while nations like the UK and Germany trailed at 31% and 23% respectively.
Whether these figures trend on the low or high end, the security implications remain constant. A smartphone loaded with business and personal data makes for a desirable target. Hackers target smartphones because they’re often unprotected, which gives hackers an easy “in” to your personal information and to any corporate networks you may use. It’s like two hacks with one stone.
Put simply, as a working professional with a smartphone, you’re a high-value target.
Protect your smartphone from being hacked
As both a parent and a professional, I put together a few things you can do to protect your smartphone from hacks so that you can keep your personal and work life safe:
1. Add extra protection with your face, finger, pattern, or PIN.
First up, the basics. Locking your phone with facial ID, a fingerprint, pattern or a pin is your most basic form of protection, particularly in the event of loss or theft. (Your options will vary depending on the device, operating system, and manufacturer.) Take it a step further for even more protection. Secure the accounts on your phone with strong passwords and use two-factor authentication on the apps that offer it, which doubles your line of defense.
2. Use a VPN.
Or, put another way, don’t hop onto public Wi-Fi networks without protection. A VPN masks your connection from hackers allowing you to connect privately when you are on unsecure public networks at airports, cafes, hotels, and the like. With a VPN connection, you’ll know that your sensitive data, documents, and activities you do are protected from snooping, which is definitely a great feeling given the amount of personal and professional business we manage with our smartphones.
3. Stick to the official app stores for your apps.
Both Google Play and Apple’s App Store have measures in place to help prevent potentially dangerous apps from making it into their stores. Malicious apps are often found outside of the app stores, which can run in the background and compromise your personal data like passwords, credit card numbers, and more—practically everything that you keep on your phone. Further, when you are in the app stores, look closely at the descriptions and reviews for apps before you download them. Malicious apps and counterfeits can still find their way into stores, and here are a few ways you can keep those bad apps from getting onto your phone.
4. Back up the data on your phone.
Backing up your phone is always a good idea for two reasons:
- First, it makes the process of transitioning to a new phone easy by transferring that backed up data from your old phone to your new phone.
- Second, it ensures that your data stays with you if your phone is lost or stolen—allowing you to remotely wipe the data on your lost or stolen phone while still having a secure copy of that data stored in the cloud.
5. Learn how to lock or wipe your phone remotely in case of emergency.
Worst case scenario—your phone is gone. Really gone. Either it’s hopelessly lost or got stolen. What now? Lock it remotely or even wipe its data entirely. While that last bit about wiping the phone seems like a drastic move, if you maintain regular backups as mentioned above, your data is secure in the cloud—ready for you to restore. In all, this means that hackers won’t be able to access you, or your company’s, sensitive information—which can keep you out of trouble and your professional business safe. Apple provides iOS users with a step-by-step guide for remotely wiping devices, and Google offers up a guide for Android users as well.
6. Get rid of old apps—and update the ones you keep.
We all download apps, use them once, and then forget they are on our phone. Take a few moments to swipe through your screen and see which ones you’re truly done with and delete them along with their data. Some apps have an account associated with them that may store data off your phone as well. Take the extra step and delete those accounts so any off-phone data is deleted.
The reason for this is that every extra app is another app that needs updating or that may have a security issue associated with it. In a time of data breaches and vulnerabilities, deleting old apps is a smart move. As for the ones you keep, update them regularly and turn on auto-updates if that’s an option. Updates not only introduce new features to apps, but they also often address security issues too.
7. Protect your phone.
With so much of your life on your phone, getting security software installed on it can protect you and the things you keep on your phone. Whether you’re an Android owner or iOS owner, mobile security software can keep your data, your shopping, and payments secure.