We usually pay a lot of attention to the security of our computers merely because we’re used to having an antivirus installed and performing scans. But that’s not something we’re used to doing when it comes to our phones. And that’s quite a strange thing considering that we carry our mobile devices around thus exposing them to more potential threats.
That’s why we’ve decided to compose a complete guide that would provide you with the list of all actions you should take to protect your phone from any digital threats out there.
Starting with the simplest things
In this section, we’re taking a look at the most effortless and important things you can do.
Always have your device locked
Sure, you turn off your screen when you put your phone in the pocket or the bag. But that’s not enough. The screen needs to be locked with a specific passcode, pattern, or any other thing your phone offers. For example, you could unlock your phone with your fingerprint or your face scan. By adding a requirement for unlocking you will secure all the sensitive data you have on your phone just a little bit.
Set the lowest possible time duration for your screen to turn off when the phone is idle. And have a habit of locking your device manually when you put it away. It’s a very simple thing to do but it will significantly improve the safety of your phone.
Use a VPN app
iNinja VPN will encrypt your data protecting it from malefactors when you’re connected to public WiFi. The thing is that public wireless networks are rarely safe as no one secures routers and updates the software. Therefore, routers in public places have a lot of vulnerabilities hackers exploit to get into devices connected to the WiFi.
By using a VPN app, you will basically hide your phone from prying eyes. If any hackers are waiting for their victim, they will see that someone is connected to the public router but they will lack data to get into your device. So install a free iNinja VPN app to reinforce your security without much hassle.
Check data apps want to access
Ideally, all your apps should have access to as little data as possible. So always be attentive when installing a new application and allowing it to access features it requests. Also, download apps from official stores since they’re verified and there are fewer chances that you’ll install a malicious program. And stick to widely-used apps that are approved by users.
When a new app is installed and it begins its setup process, carefully think over all the features it wants to have access to. Often, at this point, you can understand whether an application is malicious. For example, if a photo editor asks for access to your microphone — that’s quite a red flag.
If you think that you didn’t pay app permissions enough attention before, take your time to go to your phone settings. Find a section with installed apps and review all the permissions your installed programs have.
It’s also useful to review installed apps aiming to find unnecessary ones. Generally, the fewer apps you install, the fewer vulnerabilities your phone has. So don’t hesitate to delete unused programs.
Use an antivirus
All the widely-known antivirus providers offer apps for mobile devices, too. You can just stick to the same program you have installed on your computer.
It’s necessary to have your phone protected by an antivirus because there is a lot of malicious software for portable devices. And regardless of the operating system your gadget uses, there will be malware for it.
Malicious software can steal your sensitive data, create a gateway to your device for hackers, or lock it demanding a ransom. If you’re not sure whether your phone is clean from malware or not, perform a factory reset to eliminate possible threats.
Keep your bluetooth off
Malefactors can use your bluetooth to gain access to your device and track you. So it’s better to leave it off when you’re not using it. And if you need bluetooth for your wireless earbuds or other devices, hide your phone from other users in the bluetooth settings.
Don’t allow automatic WiFi connections
By default, your phone looks for available hotspots and connects to ones that either have no password or you’ve used before and the password is already saved. While it can be convenient, it’s better to turn off this feature because it might make you connect to a compromised or malicious network.
Avoid rooting or jailbreaking
It can be a useful and fun thing to do but rooting and jailbreaking removes security features that were there by default. Then your phone won’t be able to prevent apps from accessing sensitive data.
Be mindful about backups
Remember that backups are stored in the cloud which can be hacked. So when you’re backing up your sensitive data such as messages or private media, you expose them to a potential threat. Only back up sensitive information if you’re sure that this data will be encrypted and safe in the storage.
Use two-factor authentication
If there is multi-factor authentication — use it. Passwords are fairly easy to compromise and let’s be honest, most of us don’t follow the rules of a good password: create complex combinations, create different combinations for each service, and so on. So two-factor authentication is a very useful thing as it minimizes the chances that someone can break into your accounts.
Charge with your own cable in public places
And in general, just avoid charging your phone in public places. The thing is that the charging cable is basically the same cable used to transfer data from and to your device. While a regular electrical outlet is most likely fine, the USB one could connect your phone to some computer exposing it to hackers while you charge it. So it’s better to use a power bank or, in the worst-case scenario, a regular outlet if you need to charge your phone in a public place.
All you need to know about public WiFis
We’ve already mentioned that public wireless networks are rarely safe. But since we all tend to connect to them rather often, we should pay more attention to public WiFis and your safety when using them.
How do hackers identify devices?
They usually use MAC addresses devices share with a router when they’re connected to it. Each gadget has a unique MAC address, and a WiFi network uses it to identify returning users. Obviously, this feature can be used by hackers to identify your device and compromise your safety.
All mobile operating systems are vulnerable to this thread. Even though beginning with iOS 8, iOS-based devices broadcast fake random MAC addresses, they do this only when looking for new WiFi spots. Once the gadget is connected to a network, it shares a real MAC address.
Routers see your transferred data
It means that they can see which websites you access and the information you share. Obviously, if routers receive this data, hackers can access it, too. That’s why we advise using the iNinja VPN app — it will encrypt your data and hide your activity from prying eyes. It will protect traffic that’s incoming and outcoming from all your apps.
WiFi networks can be fake
Malefactors tend to create fake WiFi spots and name them after popular places located nearby. For example, that “McDonalds_Guests” network you found near a Mcdonald's might be not the one actually owned by this fast-food restaurant but placed there by hackers. And once you connect to it, you expose yourself to malefactors. That’s why we advise either using iNinja VPN every time you connect to a public WiFi or avoiding using public wireless networks at all. The least you can do is to ask staff to tell you the exact name of their network so that you don’t connect to a malicious one.
WiFi in public spaces helps marketers
Not something one would think of, right? We are mainly focused on our protection against malefactors in our articles. But we also shouldn’t forget that businesses can tap into our data, too, so that they could use it for their profit.
Did you ever receive ads for shops that you just passed by and never were interested in? That might’ve happened because you were connected to a mall’s WiFi network, for example. Administrators of this network can track your location and even source your social media data such as your name. While they won’t use it to harm you in some way, you will most likely get bombarded by various ads of shops and goods found in that mall.
The bottom line
Sure, we can’t really stay anonymous if we own SIM cards and use the internet. Well, we could, but it would require a lot of effort and take up a huge part of our daily routines. It’s way more viable to set the goals of staying safe from malefactors and reducing the amount of data marketers can source from you. Both things can be achieved with the help of the tips we’ve provided in this guide.
In addition to everything we’ve said, we want to remind you to stay away from malicious sites and watch out for phishing emails, messages, SMS, websites, and links. Always double-check the name of a sender, the address of the website, and don’t accept files from unknown users. And remember to use the free iNinja VPN app for Android and iOS to improve your anonymity.