How Secure is YOUR Smart Phone?

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A smartphone can contain a lot of information that we’d rather keep private, such as text messages, photos, contact lists, phone numbers, and appointments. But is it really private?  If it’s lost or stolen, could someone read the information it holds?  Do your apps see more details about you than you realize?

Here’s what you need to know:

Back-up your data - According to a June 2013 Consumer Reports survey, 69% of smart phone users don’t do this!  In addition to backing up your computer, back-up your cell phone data to save your photos, videos, and other personal content, even in the event that phone is lost or stops working.  

Use a screen lock or a strong password to secure your phone – Otherwise, if it’s lost or stolen, anyone can access all of your files

Use strong passwords – A four digit code is better than nothing, but a longer code with letters and symbols is much stronger.

Install an antivirus app – Many of the most popular antivirus software providers offer free and low cost apps to protect your phone from malware.  

Choose apps cautiously – Read the privacy notices to learn what personal information developers and advertisers collect, how they use it, how they secure it, and how you can control their access.

Turn off location tracking – All smart phones have a feature, location tracking, which can be used by apps to deliver services tailored to the phone’s current location.  Some even post your location to your social media pages.  Turn off this feature unless you need it for an application such as mapping.

Consider a remote wipe app – This allows you to clear data without having the phone, just in case it is ever lost or stolen.

Clear out old phones – Before you recycle or sell an outdated or unused phone, remove any memory card, delete sensitive data and restore the factory settings.

Be aware of text scams – Just like using email; don’t click on unfamiliar links within a text.  They may download malicious software or lead you to a bogus website.

Be alert to insecure Wi-Fi – Before using a Wi-Fi Hot Spot, check its privacy policy to see whether it secures wireless transmission of data.  If not, you could disclose an account number or password to a nearby criminal.