Protecting Your Smartphone’s Stash of Information about You
Smartphones are endlessly convenient, a factor that’s no doubt contributed generously to society’s obsession with this constantly evolving technology. Many consider their smartphone an absolutely vital part of their day-to-day routine, and with good reason. As many of us know, these devices can be used to communicate, shop, play games, trade stocks, do research, read, and even make money, but a great deal of that is made possible by a massive cache of personal information stored within your smartphone.
That pool of data enables your smartphone to do many things for you. The location sensor that tracks where you go is used for GPS navigation. Quick and convenient shopping is made possible because your phone stores your credit card data. Many people enjoy these features without a care, but beware – all of that information that makes your smartphone the wonder it is can be accessed by tech-savvy thieves.
No phone is safe, and according to a one million-user test carried out by researchers at Marble Labs, your iPhone (or any other device running iOS, for that matter) is no safer than any other smart phone, and since it’s one of the most popular products in America, you may be getting a bit worried.
There are steps you can take, however, to protect yourself from this new wave of identity thieving predators. It’s the kind of cheap insurance no insurance company can provide, and the best part about it is that it won’t cost you anything more than a few minutes of your time. If you’re reading this article on your phone right now, waiting for an appointment or a friend, you can follow this advice right away and be more secure by the time your friend arrives.
First of all, gather your materials – chances are, you already have everything you need: your smartphone and a few minutes to tinker with the settings. First, let’s make sure your password is up to snuff. If you don’t already have a password set, you should definitely create one, but if you already have a password, chances are it’s a four-digit number.
The first thing you can do is make your password more complicated by turning off the “simple password” setting on the same page where you originally set your password. Now you can set a new password, with both letter and numbers, of any length. Mixing letters and numbers is always a good idea when setting passwords, but try throwing in an odd symbol or two. Replace a letter with a sign for a random foreign currency and your password becomes much more difficult to crack.
That protects you from those who might steal your phone, but what about hackers attempting to access your phone remotely? Many of them use a “back door” into your data usually reserved for advertisers. It’s the same “back door” that allows apps to personalize their advertisements for you, but it can be used to access your personal data without you knowing.
If you go into “Settings” and proceed to “Privacy”, you can reset the advertising identifiers, making it more difficult for your activities to be tracked. Once you’ve done that, go into your “Locations” menu and make sure to limit which apps can track your whereabouts – only allow apps that have location-based features you use and you’ll reduce the amount of data stored on your device, limiting the impact a hacker can have.
What steps have you taken to protect your personal data? Share them in the comments – it just may save someone from theft.