By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
Fifteen times more likely, to be precise. Losing one’s mobile device is the most common threat to the information that is stored on them. A high percentage of people also claim that it would be more devastating to them if they were to lose their mobile device than if they were to lose their wallet.
Now that’s saying something.
Yet, when you look at the statistics, it’s almost mind boggling to realize that more than half of all smartphone users don’t rely on a password to lock their phone and protect sensitive and valuable information. Just over 50% don’t take this one, simple step to ensure the safety and security of their phone.
Consumers in the digital age store more ‘assets’ and information on their mobile devices, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars of potential losses, than ever before, yet this information is not protected the way that we protect cash. By the year 2015, it is anticipated that there will be 500 million people conducting their banking on mobile devices. Mobile banking, then, is one of the top concerns of security and safety experts.
Even if you don’t store a lot of personal information on your mobile device, there are digital footprints that could lead a savvy hacker to what they want, which is your sensitive and private information. However, there are steps that you can (and should) take to ensure that your information is protected and secure, whether you are sitting in a café or have your mobile device stolen.
Below are the five key steps that you need to take in order to lock down your mobile device.
1. Use a password to lock and unlock your mobile device
This may sound like common sense, but since more than half of all mobile device users don’t rely on a password, this is strong reminder. Yes, it can be an inconvenience at times when you want to check something quickly, but that extra two seconds that it takes to enter the password when you want to gain access to your mobile device is small when compared to what you could lose by not taking this simple step.
Never use an easily identifiable password, such as your birthdate, or the birthdate of your best friend or favorite pet. Use a random number and jot it down in a safe place in case you happen to forget it. Being that most people use their phone or other mobile device on a daily basis, it’s not likely that you’d forget even the most random password.
2. Install security applications, such as anti-virus or anti-malware
You may have thought that anti-virus and anti-malware programs were only for laptops and other main computers, but they are vitally important for smartphones and other mobile devices as well. Any time that you are connected to the Internet, either through a mobile carrier or open Wifi hotspot, you are exposed to potential threats.
3. Turn off your GPS when you don’t need it
Many smartphones and apps now ask you to enable GPS and location sharing in order to improve functionality and interactivity. Although this can be helpful in certain situations—like when you need driving directions to an unfamiliar location—it can also leave you vulnerable to hackers or criminals. To prevent hackers from being able to pinpoint your exact location at any given time, make sure you know how to turn off GPS and location sharing. Most smartphones make it very easy to review and change the status of apps that have GPS enabled.
4. Encrypt private, sensitive information on your mobile device
Anything that you plan to send over the Internet to or from your mobile device, if it’s of a sensitive nature, such as financial information, bank accounts, or login details, should be encrypted before it’s sent. There are a number of applications that you can find that will effectively encrypt all of your most sensitive information.
According to a recent study, there are about 100 million public Wi-Fi hotspots in the world in airports, coffee shops, and hotels, and roughly 89% of them are not secure. With many businesses offering free Wi-Fi that does not use any type of encryption technique (WEP, WPA, WPA2), beefing up the security of your own mobile device can be helpful in preventing the theft of personal information and data.
Using VPN (Virtual Private Network) apps such as Hotspot Shield VPN for Android or Hotspot Shield VPN for iPhone is one of the best ways to secure your browsing session. The app secures your Internet by encrypting all the internet communications going in and out of your device with HTTPs encryption. Thus, noone can track your internet activities and noone can steal your private and personal information while the app is activated.
5. Keep your mobile device updated
Don’t hack your phone to perform features that it wasn’t meant to offer, and always accept the most current and recommended patches from the operating system manufacturer. Every operating system, due to the sheer size of the code, will have vulnerabilities within them. That’s why the companies create patches—to try and improve performance, but also to help protect your system from hackers, damage, and a loss of sensitive information. Keeping your mobile device updated is one of the most effective ways to reduce the chances of having it hacked.
There are a number of other steps and strategies that you can take in order to lock down your mobile device, and the more security measures you take, the more protected it will be. However, it is difficult and arguably impossible to completely secure and protect any type of mobile device in today’s digital world. If a hacker is savvy enough and has the right tools, he or she could potentially break into any mobile device, given enough time.
That may make it seem as though there’s not much you can do, but every safeguard you put into place is one more hurdle that hackers will need to overcome to gain access to your private information.
You’ve spent a lot of money for your mobile device and likely have a tremendous amount of important, private information contained on it. Take preventive measures and lock your mobile device down to ensure that your information remains protected, even if your device falls into the wrong hands.