10 Ways to Stop Your Private Data and Pictures Leaking Out from Your Smartphone
Sep 10, 2014 10:25
The phone you carry in your pocket is several times more powerful than the computer you had sitting on your desk 10 years ago – in every aspect imaginable, its not just the power, but the prices for these mobile phones are also not less than computers .
And while most people see these devices as a huge convenience and nothing more, wiser folks realize that this kind of power is a knife with two edges. Your mobile holds an incredible amount of data about you, and if you don’t know how to control it, you can find yourself in a big mess one day.
1) Use a strong password
Let’s get the obvious out of the way – lock your phone with a password, even if it makes it slightly less convenient for you. The extra second you need to type in your code will stop a potential data thief in their tracks.
2) 2-step authentication and different passwords everywhere
2-step authentication is a form of security that requires you to take one extra step (apart from typing in the correct password) to successfully log in. Often, this is in the form of a text message that you get on your smartphone. Use this for all services that allow it, and never use the same password for two separate accounts. The first thing a hacker does after compromising one account, is almost always to try using the same password on all your other known online identities.
3) Disable automatic photo cloud syncing
All modern mobile operating systems give you the option to automatically upload pictures you’ve taken with the mobile’s camera to a cloud service. Sure, this can be great if you like to maintain an online album of your photos – but the chance of you forgetting that this option is on when you’re taking private pictures is not small. If a major celebrity like Jennifer Lawrence can fall for that trap, so can you. Disable the setting, and only turn it on when you want to sync your photos after a recent event – or better yet, sync them manually.
4) Don’t plug your phone in random chargers
Many public places now offer free charging cords for mobile devices – you just grab the nearest cable, plug it into your phone, and sip on your coffee for half an hour. Remember though, you never know what’s on the other end of that cable – even if you can see it going into a wall socket, you can never be too sure that there’s no hidden device on the other side. It’s incredibly easy to copy data from your cell phone once you’ve plugged it into a computer via USB, and you won't even see any notification that anything is going on!
5) Be careful with installing apps
People have gotten used to the fact that apps need special permissions to run, and it’s become something of a habit to just click “Accept” when installing a new app. Stop for a second and think though – does an app for saving text notes need to use your camera? Why would a game request permission for your microphone? A quick search on Google can confirm or deny your suspicions.
6) Turn off location services when you don’t need them
This is more about preventing any unnecessary private data from being stored on your phone, but it’s just as important. Many mobile phones keep their location services enabled by default – disable them and only turn them on manually when you need to use navigation features or something else that actually requires your location.
7) Always keep your phone up to date
Sometimes having your information leaked is not your fault, but the fault of a software developer who left a security issue in your phone’s operating system. No piece of software is perfect, which is why these systems receive regular updates. You should never skip your phone’s prompts to install a new system update (if the situation allows for it). If you’re not sure what the latest version of your OS is, just do an online search for any recent news about new update releases for your phone/OS.
8) Turn off NFC and Bluetooth
As convenient as NFC and Bluetooth are, it can also pose a security risk if your phone is running on older hardware/software. If it is a high end smartphone, the price you must have paid for it would be very high, it would be best to disable NFC and Bluetooth when you’re not actually sharing anything.
9) Careful handing your phone to strangers to check the time
It’s a friendly gesture, sure – but nobody should ever need to hold your phone in their hands to check the time. You don’t know what the person has up their sleeve – literally. Remember what we said about malicious USB devices above!
10) Unusual attack vectors
Hackers are creative by nature, and they always find new ways to exploit human behavior; the reflection in your glasses as you’re typing in a password; the fingerprint smudge pattern on your screen after unlocking your cellphone; Social engineering. Always be wary of strange behavior, and question people’s motives.
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