Photo: flickr.com

Everyone wants to be safe when they’re online. With smartphones becoming an increasingly common way to access the internet from anywhere, people need new techniques and technologies to protect their personal mobile data. Here are seven ways your phone can protect your personal information.

1. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA authentication makes data more secure by requiring more than just a username and password to grant access. Its versatility and multi-layered approach to security make it strong and reliable for personal and professional device protection. There are multiple options of MFA that you can layer as you please. A common version for websites is a password and personal question. If you use your phone, you have options such as PINs, fingerprinting and facial or voice recognition. Sometimes, phones and work devices will utilize hardware too, such as keys or tokens.

2. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

Many phones have the capability of using VPNs as part of their security systems, and it’s important to leverage this technology when you connect your phone to a public wifi network. A VPN creates a secure encrypted connection to the internet, which keeps your data and browsing safe from hackers and cybercriminals. While most phones can utilize VPN technology, most don’t come with VPN software. Instead, look for products from reputable software and app manufacturers.

3. Smartphone Settings

Most smartphones have privacy settings that you can adjust to your preferences and comfort level. You can encrypt your SD card, select app permissions, secure folders and set screen locks, among other features. Many apps incorporate security features, too. It’s common for apps to require passwords, but you may want to consider setting your phone’s security to include user authentication when you turn it on or unlock it. This commonly takes the form of PINs or biometrics security.

4. Password Managers

Password managers are secure repositories for unique, strong passwords and usernames. They help you avoid using one or two default passwords and create stronger passwords instead. Each account has a unique login, which makes it more difficult to guess your login credentials and to crosslink your accounts. While it’s more difficult for hackers to crack your security, a password manager remembers your login credentials for you, so even though your passwords are stronger, it isn’t difficult for you to remember them.

5. Data Backups and Storage

Backing up your data is an important step in device security. No matter how many layers of security you include, there is always a risk of your data being compromised. Many modern smartphones have access to cloud storage for you to have continuous and unlimited access to online data storage services.

While the cloud is convenient and has its advantages, internet-based storage is inherently riskier than local storage. Many smartphones have large storage capacities and can connect to external hard drives so you don’t necessarily need cloud storage.

It’s common to upgrade to a new phone after a few years, so remember to backup your data elsewhere and wipe your old phone before you get rid of it. This way, your old phone won’t be a security risk for your personal data and you’ll be able to transfer your data to your new device.

6. Software Updates

Always keep your apps and your phone’s software up-to-date. You want to have the latest version of your operating system and any patches applied because these systems keep your device running smoothly, cover any software vulnerabilities present in previous versions and update the security features of your operating system and apps.

7. Disabling Certain Services

There are certain smartphone settings that can be useful but are also potential security risks. You can disable location services and microphone access on your phone itself or on certain apps to preclude companies from accessing your data, and to secure your data from potential hacks. The best practice for these services is to only allow access when you need to or for your most trusted apps and settings.

The best way to ensure security on your device is to use your best judgment. Incorporate multiple security measures and keep your device updated and backed up.

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