Is Your Family’s Mobile Data Secure?

Smartphones are a major target for a wide variety of criminals who can upload malware, steal your family’s personal information. They can even monitor, spy on or track you via their own phones.And, in some cases, partners, friends or colleagues may be struck with an irresistible temptation to snoop on your texts, contacts and photos.

Jennifer Perry, CEO of Digital-Trust, an organisation set-up to help victims of digital abuse and intrusion, has dealt with cases where ex-partners have used someone’s phone to post awful messages on their Twitter, or contact their friends and family and send abusive text or intimate pictures. Says Perry, “It’s far better to secure your phone when you first get it and start off with better security habits, then deal with an incident later. Setting up your phone to secure your data and privacy not only helps you to be safer but it will also make your battery last much longer, which is a real bonus.”

Here are Digital-Trust’s top tips from to help you and your family secure your Android and iPhones from intruders.

  1. Play with your phone – spend time learning about its features. Go through the security and privacy options on your new phone, not just once but also after you load apps to see what changes.
  2. Lock your screen – use a password, pin, finger print or pattern to lock your screen so anyone picking up your mobile can’t read your texts, contacts or view your photos.
  3. Control your network connections. Turn off location, wifi, Bluetooth, location services and NFC (Near Field Communications) when you aren’t using it. With practice it is easy to do and will help stop data from leaking as well as saving your battery.
  4. Install security software on your phone. Yes, even iPhones get nasty viruses. Security software comes with useful features such app locking, whitelists and can remote wipe your phone if it’s stolen. For Android, security products include: Avast, McAfee or Kaspersky. For iPhone, try Avira, Avast or Intego.
  5. Use a password manager. This is an application that will generate, secure and save your passwords. Use a password manager that syncs with all your devices so have access to all your online accounts whether you are on your pc or mobile (eg. LastPass or Keepass).
  6. Set up two-step authentication on Google, iTunes, iCloud, Facebook and any other app that will allow you. Two-step authentication means that in order to change settings in the future, it will send a text code, making it more difficult for people to hack your online accounts.
  7. Turn off geotagging on photos. When you take a photo with a smartphone it includes data to say exactly where it was taken. If you send the photo with that in it, anyone seeing can find out where it was taken and, therefore, possibly where you are too. You will find an option to turn off geotags under your Location or Camera settings.
  8. Turn off screen notifications. Besides draining your battery, it will flash updates on your screen from your email and other updates which can disclose information you would rather keep private.
  9. Free wifi is risky because, while you’re connected to the wifi, people can snoop on your device. If you are using a free wifi service use a VPN (virtual private network) service which creates a secure connection online and keep your passwords and information safe.
  10. Don’t use social media apps while location services is switched on, otherwise your exact location can be shared automatically with other users and make you vulnerable.

Extras for Android

Disable app downloads from unknown sources. Go to the security under settings menu of any standard Android device. There is a check box that enables and disables installing ‘unofficial’ apps. You want to disable it so you don’t get unwanted malware.

Use a permission or privacy app. Whenever you install an app it asks permission to use your data. This is supposed to be in order to run the app, but often it gathers far more. Permission apps will show which apps are spying on you and help you manage your permissions. Try SnoopWall Privacy App or Clueful Privacy Advisor.

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