For many of us, a smartphone has become an appendage! We have it on us wherever we go. It’s our wallet, entertainment center, Rolodex, internet connection and telephone all rolled into one. We access our bank accounts, pay bills, and make purchases using our credit cards, all from our mobile devices. Imagine what could happen if your most sensitive personal and professional information fell into in the wrong hands.
Here are some tips, courtesy of Kelly Sterling at AT&T, to help you secure your device and protect your personal information:
▪ Add a password or PIN to access your device and don’t share it with anyone.
▪ Enable features like fingerprint readers and GPS tracking.
▪ Allow for automatic updates to your apps and software, so you have the latest ‘fixes’ and most secure versions.
▪ Install antivirus and anti-theft apps. For example, the Lookout app provides you with notifications if any dangerous apps are found on your phone. Also, if your device goes missing, the app sends you an email with the location of your device, plus a photo of the person who may have stolen it. Also, Apple offers Find My iPhone and Android offers “LocateMyDroid” to help you track your missing device.
▪ Regularly back up your data to the cloud. If you lose your device, you don’t have to lose your contacts, photos, videos and other data. By storing them in the cloud with services like AT&T Locker, you will still have access to them.
To maintain your device security:
▪ Change passwords often.
▪ Update virus and spyware definitions daily. (Definitions are files that act like an ever-growing encyclopedia of potential software threats.)
▪ Scan downloads with your antivirus app. Manually update apps that don’t update automatically.
▪ Use secure internet connections.
▪ Only visit secure websites.
▪ Back up your device regularly.
▪ Stay aware of the latest security threats and scams.
If you’re unable to find your lost or stolen device using one of the options listed above, notify your provider right away and have your service suspended to protect your account from unauthorized use. If you find your device, you can contact your provider to have your service reactivated, but better safe than sorry. Also consider filing a police report. Some mobile insurance providers may require a crime reference number.
And lastly, if your device is stolen, use the remote wipe feature, if available for your device. It will erase all your personal information on the phone, which includes any contacts, photos or videos stored on the device.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.