7 Tips on How to Make Your Smartphone More Secure

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.

  • Executables from PC cannot run on android platform, one should be only wary of the malicious .apk files and apps he can get from different app stores. Author also didn’t mention that one should encrypt his/her data to secure it.

    • You are right except that media files from PCs can also contain malware.
      Encryption isn’t something that new users can manage.

  • Why people need antivirus for a phone, simply it tells you that android and apple are not secure os. People prefer them the most but in real windows mobile( phone) operating system is best in this regard. professionals around the world, including corporations use windows. It’s changed with windows 10, I recommend it to everyone that give it a try, no lags, hangups like android even on cheap windows mobiles.

    • Windows phones aren’t secure as long as they can run the same stuff as the full Windows. You are right though, Win 10 is the most secure OS out there for all platforms.

            • Windows Continuum. That’s what it is. The interface changes based on the screen size but the kernel is the same for all version of Windows. Windows 10 uses the same kernel across all platforms, you can check and it won’t be that much “hilarious”.

              • Haha, you have no idea what you’re talking about, do you? Do you even know what a kernel is? And continuum apps are still apps, not executables. So funny!

                • Yes I do know what a kernel is and you should read about the kernel upgrade Microsoft had been planning since Windows 7. It is this exact kernel upgrade which has enabled Windows on Xbox as well.
                  Continuum apps? Microsoft has almost switched over to Universal apps for Xbox, Phones, desktops and all existing win32 apps will be converted to universal apps, even users can do it. Why you think that these universal apps won’t run in continuum mode is beyond me.

  • Your Mac and IP Cannot be hidden For Longest dude
    You may hide it from your ISP using ur VPN
    But its Still exposed to VPN which may log your activities and present in the plate to your ISP When required :p

  • If you know how to root your phone then you must be aware of privacy and stuff. An average user can’t root his phone anyway.

    And please, antivirus? Like really? I can’t believe people still rely on antivirus. Same with apps from unknown sources. I don’t remember when was the last time my phone got affected by any virus..

    • Some people simply follow the trend and try to root their devices. It’s necessary to advise noobs to do plenty of research before trying anything like this. XDA is full of noobs trying to root their phones.

  • No need of antivirus lol!! Simply root your phone. Install a CM based custom ROM, you will get a feature “Privacy Guard” Which will allow you control the accessibility of your apps…

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