by Fahad Ur Rehman Khan and Aadil Shadman
Today’s internet-connected world brings with it several security and privacy issues. Smartphones have become our primary medium of accessing the internet. Whether at home or at work, our smartphones are especially vulnerable to these issues.
We have listed 7 ways which can help you protect your smartphone from a potential hack or virus.
Get an Antivirus App
Downloading an antivirus application can secure your device, but it’s not the only safeguard you need. Usually, any files transferred from other devices, like PCs can also contain malware and viruses. While mobile antivirus can protect against such viruses, the best course of action would be to avoid moving files directly between devices or scan each file using a high-rated antivirus before sending it to your smartphone.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks is just like inviting intruders into your private life. It is one of the most unsecure things in the world. A huge majority of people still use it because it’s free. But the fact is that with public hotspots, even a novice hacker can eavesdrop on your private emails, passwords and account details with a little bit of tinkering.
If you do need to use the internet outside your home and have to do anything remotely sensitive, you’re better off using your mobile internet. If you don’t have access to that, then you will be better off using a VPN app in conjunction with public wifi. These VPN apps come with built-in data encryption to keep your activities secure.
Turn Off Bluetooth Unless Required
Bluetooth is often used for short-range device communication. Whether you are transferring data or connecting to a multimedia device over Bluetooth, you are exposing your device to hackers. While using this technology at home may not pose much of a threat, but when Bluetooth is activated away from home, your device can be bluejacked (remote hijacking).
In short, your device can be accessed by hackers even if you are using the latest iterations of Bluetooth i.e. BT versions 4.1 or even 4.2. To prevent hijacking and snooping risks, Bluetooth should always be off when not in use.
Keep IP and MAC addresses hidden
People are often unaware that IP address is a gateway to their device. These are like digital addresses, since IPs can be used to locate any device. There are many softwares or apps which can be used to keep your IP address hidden over the world wide web. However, devices are exposed when connected to the same local area network.
Each connected device is recognized by its MAC Address (name). When in a public place or when using an internet connection that is being shared by others, you are potentially open to remote attacks. Anyone with your MAC address can specifically target your device if they desire.
The only way around this is to keep your digital identity hidden by using VPNs and a reliable Firewall app which can protect against any hacking attempts.
Never Trust Apps From Unknown Sources
All smart devices come with their own respective app stores. Android devices usually come with Google Play Store, iOS devices come with Apple App Store, and Windows devices have their own store. Despite that, users often choose to install apps from different websites and other unknown sources.
The first thing to do is to avoid unknown sources for apps. There’s no guarantee that the app you have downloaded hasn’t been tempered with already or if it’s actually a malware app. It’s better to avoid apps from outside the official app stores. However, if it is really necessary, then download the app from its official website. Even then you should read app reviews to know what you are getting into.
Use a Numeric Password rather than a Pattern Lock
Pattern locks are very easy to bypass. If you consider privacy to be important, use pins or passwords. While patterns may be easy to unlock repeatedly, pins and passwords offer far greater security. You can double your security by using third party security apps which offer changing pins. They protect you even when you unlock your phone in front of somebody.
Another alternative would be to get your hands on a phone with a fingerprint scanner. Smartphones with such security features are difficult to fool and ordinary people will stand little chance if they attempt to pry into your personal files.
Jailbreaking or Rooting
Some of you might not understand terms such as jailbreaking or rooting. To describe these terms simply, Jailbreaking or Rooting is the process of gaining advanced access to your device’s software and hardware via an OS vulnerability. This allows you to increase your phones functionality, customizability and gives you access to a realm of developer mods.
However, it’s not all that great. With such advanced access, you risk your device’s security. Hackers can make use of any flaws in your device security and take control of your device in a manner which is not possible otherwise. Other than that, you void your warranty and risk bricking your device.
In short, it’s not something you should meddle with unless you are comfortable with the risks. Even then, you should read about your device on public forums, if you don’t understand anything better leave it or try it out on a spare device to get some hands-on practice.
Hopefully, these 7 fundamental tips will help you keep your smartphone better protected against hackers and attackers. They may sound like common-sense tips, but they can ensure that your data remains safe and secure at all times.