It’s difficult to imagine life without having your phone to hand, which is why it’s more important than ever to make sure it’s protected. The more reliant on phones we become, the more opportunities hackers have for stealing our information or spreading viruses — but you can stay one step ahead. Here’s a guide to being safer on your mobile phone in 2018.
Protect your phone with a screen lock and password
Most people already do this, but if you don’t, set them up as soon as possible.
A lock screen will activate after a short period of inactivity, meaning an intruder has no choice but to try and guess your password. And if you pick a good password, their chances of getting it right will decrease dramatically.
What makes a good phone password?
- A mix of letters, numbers and symbols
- A pattern (make sure it’s not visible when you enter it)
- Fingerprint recognition
- Note: Avoid using a PIN if possible — they’re normally easier to figure out, especially if you use important dates like anniversaries and birthdays
Watch out for Wi-Fi networks
We’ve all felt relieved when we’ve found a Wi-Fi network we can use. But fraudsters have quickly taken advantage of this and are setting up their own networks. Unsuspecting members of the public will connect, only for hackers to gain access to their information, including bank account details and passwords.
How can I protect my information and still access the internet?
- Only connect to secure, official Wi-Fi networks that are password-protected. If you’re not sure, check the details with the host.
- Don’t do anything that risks making sensitive information such as bank details and emails visible to cybercriminals.
- If you use a lot of data, make sure your contract or pay as you go deal includes a large amount — enough that you’re unlikely to go over the limit. Given the choice, using a 3G or 4G connection is safer than connecting to an unknown Wi-Fi network and risking your privacy.
- Use a VPN. A VPN (i.e. a virtual private network) encrypts all the data that passes through the network you’re connected to, which stops hackers from intercepting it.
Don’t download apps from a link
To say apps have taken off in the last few years would be an understatement. More and more are being created every day and they’ve become a normal, even essential part of everyday life. (For example, 39% of Ghanaians living overseas spend more than five hours on their phone everyday, with 56% using WhatsApp as their primary form of social media.)
It can be tempting to download the latest app without thinking, but resist the urge. Avoid downloading apps through clicking a link and stick to the Apple App Store or Google Play, where the apps will have been verified before they’re featured on there. And don’t forget to disable the option which allows the installation of third party apps (they normally carry harmful malware).
Install an antivirus app
It’s commonplace to install antivirus software on your desktop computer or laptop, but did you know you can also use it to protect your phone?
There are free, good quality apps available if you’re on a strict budget (e.g. Avast and Sophos) and for those who are happy to spend a bit extra on security, you can pay for something like Norton or Bitdefender. Compare the best antivirus apps for Android here.
iPhone already has a closed security system and experts disagree on whether it’s worth downloading additional protection, but generally it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Update your operating system
Yes, they can be a pain to install, but the reason updates are introduced is because they improve on security. The newer the update, the less likely hackers are to find and exploit its flaws for their own gain.
Updating your phone will also speed up its running time, fix bugs, improve existing software, and take advantage of the latest features, and overall just make it more pleasant to use. Still need convincing? Read about the top five benefits of upgrading your software today.