How To Protect Your Smartphone From Hacking

Whether it’s listening to a podcast on our way to work, doing quick calculations as our mental math skills have almost completely deteriorated, or putting everything from movies to doctor’s appointments in our calendar, there’s hardly ever a moment when we don’t have our smartphone by our side. So if we were to be hacked, we’d be in deep trouble, risking information about our credit and debit cards, location, social security number, and more.

But don’t throw away your smartphone just yet! There are a number of ways to prevent hackers from gaining access to your smartphone, and none of them require much time or effort. In just a few minutes, you can go from zero to hero regarding smartphone security. Let’s get started!

  • Don’t Jailbreak: No, this isn’t a game of Monopoly. Jailbreaking your smartphone means that you have complete control over your smartphone, avoiding the manufacturer’s restrictions. So on an iPhone, for example, that means you’ll be able to use apps from places other than Apple’s official app store, plus make any tweaks to your phone’s iOS. However, we don’t recommend jailbreaking because with freedom comes lack of security. First of all, you shouldn’t be downloading apps that aren’t from the app store, as they haven’t been screened for malware. In fact, when you jailbreak your phone, you’re basically taking down all of the security measures that the manufacturer has built into their smartphones— think of it like bulldozing the fence around your house. While you might appreciate the view, you’re a lot more vulnerable than you were before. Jailbreaking also removes the smartphone’s virus protection, plus, you won’t be able to easily update your software, which could lead to further problems down the line.
  • Make Smartphone Lock Sooner: In the moments where we don’t have our smartphones on hand, you might have noticed that they lock, forcing you to enter in your passcode or biometrics like your fingerprint or face. While it might be annoying to have to sign in every time, ultimately, it’s protecting your device, so we recommend setting your auto-lock to 30 seconds, meaning it will lock with no activity for 30 seconds.  And if you don’t have the lock turned on at all, needless to say, you should probably change that.
  • Perform All Software Updates: Companies like Google and Apple have people working around the clock to improve the smartphone’s security, so if there’s ever an iOS or Android update, do it. Although these updates can be annoying, they’re incredibly necessary for keeping up with the latest and greatest in security software. We recommend doing them at night so you’re never without your smartphone in your waking hours!
  • Set up Two-Factor Authentication: If you’ve been paying attention, then you know that it’s a smart idea to turn on auto-lock so you’ll have to enter a passcode to access your smartphone, but if you want to take that a step further, we’d set up two-factor authentication. That way, if someone guesses your passcode, they still won’t be able to access your phone, as your phone company will send you another code via text or phone call. Again, this will make opening your smartphone a bit more tedious, but it’s a fantastic idea if you’re serious about avoiding hackers.
  • Create Long Passcode: When choosing a passcode, people tend to do something fairly obvious, like their birthday, numbers in chronological order, or a portion of their phone number. Needless to say, this isn’t the safest practice. Rather, the numbers should be truly random, and be sure to use a six-digital passcode, the longest possible. While it will be a bit harder to remember this number, it will also be harder for hackers to guess, which is ultimately a good thing for your phone’s security.
  • Turn On Erase Data: Now, what if your smartphone is lost or stolen and for some reason, your hackers are able to access your account? Of course, this is a worst-case scenario, but in a weird way, thinking about what to do in these situations is kind of our job. Don’t worry: there is a solution, and that is to turn on Erase Data, otherwise known as setting your smartphone to self-destruct. The other option is having the phone automatically “self-destruct” after too many failed passcode attempts. Of course, this is a more extreme measure, but either will ultimately increase your smartphone’s security.
  • Avoid Phishing and Pop-Ups: Phishing has gotten increasingly sophisticated, sending tech-savvy people ostensibly legitimate links and pop-up ads. While phishing is a topic we have a lot more to say about, there are some basics we want to impart to you. Don’t email any sensitive information unless you are sure of the recipient, and don’t click on any links unless you are sure they are legitimate. Scroll down to find out how you can tell if a website is safe or not.
  • Turn Auto-Fill Off: Auto-fill, which fills out forms automatically with your personal and financial information, is both incredibly convenient and incredibly dangerous if your phone gets in the wrong hands. What’s to stop a hacker or thief from using your credit card information to buy themselves a new wardrobe from Supreme? While it might make your life a bit more tedious, it is the safest idea to turn off auto-fill on your smartphone.