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Mobile security 101: The basics to keep you safe

Mobile security 101: The basics to keep you safe

5/27/2014

If you own a smartphone or tablet, then you need to worry about mobile security. Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting consumers' mobile devices, realizing that if they can access these gadgets, they'll have the opportunity to steal significant amounts of sensitive data, including financial information, that they can use for identity theft, fraud and more.

To keep your mobile devices and data safe, here are five basic tips to follow.

1. Auto-lock your phone
One of the simplest steps you can take to protect your mobile device is also the most effective: activating auto lock. In other words, ensure that your gadget locks after a few minutes of inactivity so that anyone attempting to use your device after this time must first enter a password.

Why is this so important? Because even the most cautious individuals will occasionally misplace their mobile devices. When this happens, auto lock is the only thing preventing a random stranger from picking up the gadget and immediately accessing all of its sensitive contents. To protect your mobile data, you need to take into account physical security.

To ensure that your auto lock is effective, choose a password that cannot be easily guessed. To be even more secure, you can activate an auto-destruct policy that will erase your device's data if the wrong password is entered too many times in a row.

2. Update as soon as possible
Manufacturers and app producers are constantly developing and releasing updates to their offerings. Sometimes this is simply to improve performance and functionality. However, cybersecurity is also a key reason why these updates are important for both developers and consumers. As Lookout noted, hackers are constantly searching for app and software vulnerabilities. Updates are often designed to patch these issues before cybercriminals can take advantage of them. If you wait to update, you give potential cyberattackers more time to infiltrate your device. Updating quickly minimizes this risk.

3. Be wary of public Wi-Fi
These days, a huge percentage of businesses offer free public Wi-Fi to their customers, or anyone in the vicinity. This allows shoppers to browse the Internet without using their own data plans. While there's nothing wrong with using public Wi-Fi, you need to be careful in regard to which activities you perform. Any information that you transmit over these unprotected networks may potentially be viewed by other, unauthorized parties. Consequently, you should always try to avoid making payments or accessing your mobile bank accounts over public Wi-Fi. Wait until you're on a secure network.

4. Exercise caution when choosing apps
There are hundreds of thousands of apps available to download, with more offerings emerging every day. There are apps to meet seemingly every need, and it is tempting to simply install any one that seems appealing and useful. However, not every app is developed by a reputable firm. Some have serious security flaws, while others may be intentionally designed to steal users' information. To protect your mobile data, you need to be careful to download only apps that you can trust.

5. Get insurance
No matter how careful you are with your mobile device, accidents will happen. There is no way to fully prevent your smartphone from being stolen, lost, dropped or soaked. What you can do, though, is purchase a ProtectCELL phone insurance plan. If you do, you can replace your device quickly and easily if it's destroyed, no matter the cause.

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