With new technology comes new responsibilities. You bought that new smartphone because it does more, is faster, has a larger screen, or otherwise just makes you feel better. It also came with an impressive price tag. It would be a shame if your new and expensive device were to break, get stolen or lose your data.
Here are the 3 best ways to secure your new smartphone:
1. Protect Your Investment
Consider purchasing accidental damage insurance. At least weigh your cost of replacement options versus the cost of a plan. Either from your carrier or from a 3rd party service such as SquareTrade, get some estimates and decide if insurance makes financial sense. Invest in a quality case that provides shock and drop protection.
Vanity cases may look cute, but they won’t protect your device from getting damages when you drop it. And you will drop it (unfortunately).
Take it a step further and invest in a good quality screen protector. They’re cheap enough, and come in shatter-proof glass options that will keep your screen from looking like a spider web for the length of your contract.
2. Secure your investment
These days it's important to be secure. Not properly securing your phone is a huge risk!
Here are 6 things that must be on your security "to-do" list:
- Screen lock. You can set your phone to auto-lock the screen after a few minutes of inactivity. Use 4 (or 6 or more!) digits to secure your device in case it is lost or stolen. Depending on your make and model, you may be able to use biometric authentication or enable a full data wipe if too many passwords are attempted.
- Backup your data. Whether you're using iCloud, DropBox, OneDrive, or some other service, make sure any data (especially those vacation pics and #selfies) are backed up.
- Keep the operating system and apps up to date. Your smartphone IS a computer. It has an operating system. There will be updates and many of them address security vulnerabilities or improvements. Make sure to keep up-to-date with updates as they are released. Do the same for any APPS you have downloaded, whether you use them frequently or not. Get in the habit of checking for new versions periodically.
- Turn off wi-fi (disable auto connect too) as well as Bluetooth when not in use. Not only does turning off these services save battery, this practice may save your device from prying eyes and your data from inadvertently being accessed. Every day new hacking strategies are developed to take advantage of vulnerable smartphones with wireless and Bluetooth on, with nobody home. Further, make sure to disable the “autoconnect” feature that tells your phone to connect to any open wireless it detects.
- Enable remote location service and remote wiping. My wife recently announced that she couldn’t find her iPhone. I jumped on mine and used the “Find My iPhone” APP (that was updated recently by the way). We quickly realized that she had left it at her sister’s house after a recent visit. Good thing it wasn’t at Red Lobster, but if it was we already had the remote wipe capability set up.
- Don't forget your old phone. No matter what your plans are for that old phone, make sure you remove any memory cards. Don’t recycle the phone with the memory card as data could still be accessed. Further, make sure to do a factory reset of the phone so it is back to factory defaults before you put it in a drawer, donate it, or sell it on eBay.
3. Treat your investment
Now that you have your smartphone secured, here are habits you need to create for yourself:
- Notice Phishing texts. If you receive random texts from unknown numbers, no matter the enticing message and how tempting the offer, don’t reply, don’t keep the message, and please don’t give out personal information.
- Logout. Make sure that you log out of your banking app or website when you’re done. It may be convenient to keep Facebook logged in all the time, but what if you left your phone somewhere and I grabbed it? I would have access to all your information.
- Download apps from trusted site. Make sure any APP you download is from a legitimate site (read: Apple’s Appstore or Google’s Google Play). Also read reviews and make note of what others are saying about the app. Did they have a bad experience, or trust the creator?
- Don't store usernames and passwords. I hope this goes without saying. If you keep a master list of all of your usernames and passwords on your phone, you are potentially giving a would-be hacker the keys to YOUR kingdom. Follow these password security tips to avoid getting hacked.
Smartphones have become a large part of our lives. You spend a great deal of quality time with your device and rely on it to be with you and available whenever you need to access information. The moment you discover you've dropped it, lost it, or are otherwise unable to access your data you go immediately into panic mode.
That large price tag makes your shiny object a target for theft and is expensive to replace. Your data could have an even higher value if unrecoverable or accessed by others. I hope these safeguards keep you and your new smartphone a perfect pair until it's time to upgrade. Again.