Safety hacks for your smart-phone device!

Author: Chris, Helm Point Engineer 

If you’re reading this, chances are you have a smart phone. And if you’re like millions of other people with smart phones, you use your phone to not only communicate with others, but you download dozens of apps to do a variety of things, you connect to the internet, and you manage and track a lot of your life on it. With all the personal information we store in our cellphones, it is critical we know how to protect our data from hackers. I am going to outline several quick tips for you to take away and make your smart phone device more secure.

Remember, your smart phone is just a small mobile computer.  In fact, it’s much more powerful than home computers were as the internet was first growing in popularity.  Along came viruses, ad-ware, and the people who wrote them.  Back then, these things focused on home and business computers.  Now, however, our phones are fair game as well.  What can we do to protect ourselves and our devices?  The answers to this question are the same as if asked of our personal computers at home.  I’ll cover only a few things you can do here.  There are many.  Your favorite search engine is your friend.

1) Install security updates

This really is one of the most valuable things you can do.  Just like using your home computer, updates to the Operating System and other software on your phone are the best way to protect your phone from most common hacks and viruses.  A vast majority of hacks and viruses get patched fairly quickly.  Unfortunately, not everyone protects their devices with the latest updates before bad things happen.  (Also, phone service providers share some of this blame.  They aren’t always quick with passing patches on to the phones to which they provide service.)

2) Use the phone locking features

Use biometrics (facial recognition, fingerprint, etc.) if you feel comfortable with that.  Facial recognition isn’t as mature in its capabilities as the fingerprint scanning.  Be sure to test this out before you rely solely on this feature.  Your child might be able to break into your phone just by looking at it J  Passcodes/pins are a tried and true method.  Just make sure it’s not something easily guessed (like part of your phone number or address).  Also, protect your screen from curious eyes when unlocking your device.

3) Don’t install things just because they have good reviews, millions of downloads, or your friends all installed them

Be sure to read the information the apps want access to on your phone.  Most of the time, apps really should not need access to your files, camera, etc.  There are some times where this is necessary, of course.  Just use your best judgment when an app is asking for permission to access things on your phone.  Also, be careful of updates.  Sometimes the developer will add permissions required with new updates.

4) Be careful of unsecured Wi-Fi networks

I know it’s convenient to run to Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. and get some downloads done while waiting on drinks or food.  Just remember that those networks are wide open to everyone.  That means your browsing and downloading data is available for fairly easy hacking by those who know how to hack.  As long as you aren’t concerned about whatever it is you are doing (i.e. don’t hook up to your bank over open Wi-Fi), using these networks is fine.  Just remember that they are very much public.

Again, I want to stress that this is in no way an exhaustive list of things that can be done.  Please consider searching on your own and implementing more protective measures to keep your information secure.

Thanks for reading.  I hope this has provided valuable information you can use.  Please reach out to us with comments, questions, or ideas for future blogs.  Thank you!

1 thought on “Safety hacks for your smart-phone device!

  • Thanks for posting Chris. All great Tips. We all need to be constantly reminded of the potential breach when using public Wi-Fi. We also need to be aware of our surroundings when using our phone. You mentioned curious eyes. As smart phones become more sophisticated, the value and attractive features of these devices draw the interest of robbers and thieves. So everyone should be mindful of the distraction our phones cause which can lead to theft. If you are not paying attention to what is going on around you, there is potential for a criminal(s) to target you for your device some of which are ranging in prices close to $1000.00!

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