Stronghold Staff using Laptops

Device Security: The 3 biggest tips to keep your smartphone data secure

It’s amazing how the phone has changed so much over the last 10 years.

Once upon a time, society only used phones to communicate basic needs and wants. And now, society uses the phone to quite literally organize life itself.

Finances, personal hobbies, family activities, photo albums, work projects, meetings, appointments, friends, shopping — it’s all managed and contained in a simple rectangular device that’s usually no bigger than your hand.

Amazing? Yes. Worrisome? You bet.

As you probably know, it’s more than easy to lose your device, and it’s even easier to have it stolen right out of your hands. And while mobile malware isn’t necessarily a huge threat, it is still a threat.

In the wrong hands, your phone can do a lot of damage to your life … mainly because it says everything there is to say about it (deepest, darkest secrets included).

So to help you avoid a mobile catastrophe, here are a few quick and simple tips to help you protect your life against a stolen, lost, or infected device.

Install a device-finding app.

Phones aren’t just important because they contain so much information about your life. They’re also important because they cost a lot of money. Every time you lose or break your phone, you’ll be required to shell out another couple hundred dollars. That’s not exactly something the average person enjoys doing.

Since losing your phone is often unavoidable (or having it stolen), what you can do is install a device-finding app on your phone.

These apps are great for a variety of reasons. But for starters, they can provide you with step-by-step directions to your lost or stolen phone.

They also give you the ability to remotely turn on features. So, let’s say that your phone was stolen … you could potentially turn on your camera to snap a quick photo of the thief.  

Prey is a great example of a device-finding app that works both on Android and Apple devices.

Avoid fake Wi-Fi hotspots.

How many times have you used your phone to access sensitive information in public? Probably quite a few times, and most likely, you didn’t really think anything of it.

And how many times have you done this over a public Wi-Fi connection? Maybe you sent an important work message to a coworker while you were standing in line at Starbucks or perhaps you purchased an item online while you were picking up toothpaste at Target.

Either way, there’s the potential for a whole lot of bad anytime you handle sensitive activities on a public Wi-Fi connection. Malicious hotspots do exist, and if you connect to one, a hacker could see everything you type and every website or app you visit.

While they are rare, these fake hotspots have been known to dupe even the most computer-savvy individuals. So the best advice in this instance is to ask you to avoid accessing sensitive information when you’re out and about (and especially if you’re connected to public Wi-Fi).  

Update your passcode.

At this point, most people use a passcode to protect their phones. By doing so, access is restricted to only those you let in (which is extremely helpful if a thief happens to get a hold of your mobile device).

However, when was the last time you actually changed your passcode? Has it been the same since you bought your phone? And how long ago was that? And even so, if you’ve been through two or three phones in the last few years, have you changed your passcode from device to device or kept it the same?

If you’re anything like the average phone owner, then your passcode has probably been the same for years.

Now, mobile passcodes don’t work like regular internet passwords. A hacker can’t exactly pull off a successful brute force attack and gain entry to your phone. However, where the threat does exist is with the many people you may have shared your passcode with over the years.

Because of this potential grey area, do yourself a favor and update your passcode every few months or so. It only takes a few seconds.

Or at the very least, create a new passcode every time you get a new phone.

But of course, threats extend far beyond that of smartphones and mobile devices. Here are 10 online habits that hackers and malware love.