In this digital era, with the increasing technological advances, handheld devices have gained much importance in our lives. In recent years, with the advent of multitasking and desktop-like computing capabilities on mobile phones, these new mobile phones or smartphones have become an eternal part of our daily life. However, with the increasing importance of smartphones and dependency on them, smartphone security or mobile device security, in general, has gained much importance. The primary purpose of this article is to make the smartphone users aware of the potential risks and security hazards as well as let them know how our little daily habits might lead to a significant security breach and a mishap. Along with making the users aware of the potential threats, we are also going to discuss a few security practices which every smartphone user must adapt to.
The top ten security practices for smartphone users are as follows:
- Listen to the device: Give due importance to the security status and recommendations your device gives you. The operating system of your smartphone is coded keeping in mind the average gadget user. It is essential to put the basic security features of your smartphone at least to use. With growing security concern, the smartphones come equipped with various security features such as fingerprint scanners, iris scanners and even depth perception facial recognition. However, access to these features still depends on the age-old pattern lock or generic alphanumeric password. It is imperative to keep these basic passwords undisclosed for maximum security of your device. Along with keeping them secret, it is also essential to take care that these passwords are unique, long and complicated so that it is impossible to crack them. Care must also be taken that your unique password is requested at the startup. This ensures that even if some person tries to restart your device with the intention of accessing your data, they will be restricted at the very beginning.
- Use a password manager: Always install an efficient password manager app for your device if you desire for the added advantage and edge over the hackers. Password manager programs are trusted password setting apps which assist you with the task of setting up difficult passwords and saving them securely.
- Refrain from answering calls and messages from unknown people: It is essential to install apps like Truecaller to get an idea about the owner of the unknown number you are receiving the call from. Certain number series are easily recognizable as spam caller numbers. Avoid answering calls from such numbers. Always keep in mind that calls from foreign countries from where you have no contact with should not just be rejected but also reported in cases of multiple calling incidents. Even after following each of the tips which we have discussed, if you do end up answering any spam calls, make sure that you do not divulge any information related to your distant personal or professional life. Whatever the precautions for unknown calls, same go for unknown messages. Do not entertain any messages which lure you into having a casual conversation and do not refrain from blocking such numbers outright.
- Do not save payment details on the device: Avoid storing payment information on your mobile device when your browser asks you to save the information to ease out any future transactions. Even though the software security of your smartphone is secure enough not to divulge such important information to any hacking attempts, this practice reflects its actual threat when your mobile device gets stolen and falls into the hands of any hacker. Hence, even though it might cost you a few minutes of your life, avoid saving payment information on your device.
- Restrict the use of payments bank: A yet another major issue related with online transactions and going cashless as well as cardless, i.e., proceeding transactions online, without the requirement of the actual card is the advent of payments banks. Even though the payments banks are under judicial obligations, their complete disconnection from paper money or cash makes them vulnerable to mishaps of high intensity due to hacking. Thus, to stay safe from such issues, it is advisable to use the payments bank accounts only for small transactions. It is also recommended that one must keep their payments bank account balance as low as possible to steer clear of the threats mentioned above.
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- Always keep your smartphone operating system updated: Maximum times, the operating system updates are not just released to enhance the functionality of your device but also to keep the security database up to date. Either way, even if the updates are meant for performance optimization or security optimization, it is essential to keep your device updated for taking the best advantage of your device. It is also advisable to take a backup of your device data every time your device is updated. Care must be taken that backup is not just taken on the local storage of the device but is also taken on another computer as well as over cloud storage. These not only come to use when the device gets stolen but also come in handy in cases when the device needs to undergo a factory reset and data wipe due to irreparable errors in the operating system.
- Use a legit antivirus: It is advisable to keep your smartphone virus protected using a trusted antivirus app. Care must be taken while installing the antivirus app that the app is a genuine product from a trusted company and not a malware. Any legit antivirus app not only protects your smartphone from viruses alone but also guides you with the apt practices for a genuinely secure smartphone. It advises the user to utilize the various security layers of the smartphone at various levels. An example of such security layer is the ‘no tracking’ feature in the browsers which does not allow the websites you are visiting to know the complex information about your device.
- Keep your wireless radios in check: One should always keep a check over the wireless communication modes other than SIM connectivity, viz. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Care must always be taken that the Bluetooth is not in discovery mode unless and until required. Even during events where the device is made discoverable, one should refrain from accepting connection requests from unexpected devices. In case of Wi-Fi connectivity, one must take care that no crucial internet activity such as important transactions or sending crucial documents while connected to a public Wi-Fi network. It is also advisable to turn off the NFC module of your smartphone since many hackers can leach out information from your smartphone without your notice.
- Keep a check on the apps you install: Any user must always check the reliability of the various apps installed on their smartphones. Care must be taken that the apps are downloaded only from the official Android or iOS app stores. A verified app is an added advantage in such cases. One must also keenly notice the permissions requested by the app and the relevance of any particular permission with the role of that app before granting it. The users must note that the cracked versions of a few paid apps, even though might appear to be a convenient option but might have ungrateful consequences in the long run.
- Install remote lock and locate apps: Install an app which will let you lock, locate, wipe or permanently disable your smartphone remotely in case of any theft. To help these apps, efficiently perform, it is essential to keep the location services of your device turned on.
Even though the practices mentioned above would help the users get a rough idea about the responsibilities of a regular smartphone user, the field is extremely vast. As the complexity of operations of the smartphone and its role in our lives has increased, the complexity of smartphone security has increased a lot.