7 simple ways to protect your selfies and everything else on your mobile device

Tips & Tricks

You email, you shop and you may even bank on your mobile phone or tablet. That device in your pocket or on your lap likely contains as much private information about you as your PC — or even more when you count all your texts, photos and videos.

Simply put: Protecting your mobile is just as important as protecting your PC — possibly even more important since it’s not as easy to leave your desktop in the back of a taxi or have it swiped from your  So what should you do?

Here are 7 easy tips from the last F-Secure Labs Mobile Threat Report to make sure you’re not exposing your private life through your mobile phone:

1. Lock the device
Locking your device prevents anyone else from meddling with its settings and installing an app (such as a monitoring-tool or spyware) while it is out of your possession. For the lock to be effective, make sure the password/passcode/pattern is unique, and preferably memorable for you without being easy for someone else to guess.

2. Set up anti-theft protection
Anti-theft protection typically provides you the ability to remotely wipe the data on your phone, including on any memory cards installed, if you decide your phone is irretrievable. Some anti-theft solutions also include features such as location mapping or sounding the alarm, to help when attempting to locate the device. Several anti-theft solutions exist including the one that’s part of our F-Secure Mobile Security.

You also want to make sure that the pictures, videos, texts and files on your phone are backed up.

3. Download apps only from official stores

By default, Android devices block installation of apps from any source other than the Play Store. you can check to make sure your device only allows Play Store apps by looking in setting > applications > unknown sources. If the checkbox is checked, non-Play Store apps can be installed. Uncheck this.

5. Check the apps’ permission requests
Whether you’re downloading from the Play Store or other sources, make sure to read the app’s list of requested permissions

The ones that typically raise eyebrows due to security or privacy concerns are:
• Make phone calls
• Send SMS or MMS
• Your location
• Your personal information

You can use our free Android Permissions app to check your apps’ permissions.

If the permissions requested seem excessive or unrelated to the app’s purpose—for example, a casual game asks to send SMS messages—you can check the developer’s references for more details, as reputable developers usually explain why the permissions are needed. If the use appears justified to you, then you may elect to download the app.

5. Scan apps with a mobile antivirus
Once downloaded onto your device, use a reputable mobile antivirus to scan the app. you can think of this as a check on the app’s ‘silent’ behavior—permissable actions that are implied in the app’s permissions list (for example, sending the device’s details to a remote server) but may cause users concern. If the verdict from the mobile antivirus is acceptable to you, then you can proceed to install the app.  We, of course, recommend our F-Secure Mobile Security, which you can try for free.

6. Use web browsing protection
To avoid stumbling onto a malicious site while surfing on a mobile device, use web browsing protection (available from most antivirus solutions including F-Secure Mobile Security) to block known harmful sites.

7. Use a VPN
“We have seen an increase in the misuse of wi-fi, in order to steal information, identity or passwords and money from the users who use public or insecure wi-fi connections,” Troels Oerting, head of Europol’s cybercrime centre, recently told BBC Click.

If you rely on public wi-fi connections to get online with your mobile device, you should definitely use a VPN — a virtual private network, says Security Watch‘s Fahmida R. Rashid.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, whether it’s a public venue like the Olympics, a major conference like SXSW, or a local Starbucks. You should have your own security mechanisms in place instead of trying to pass the buck on the person operating the network.”

Freedome by F-Secure offers VPN protection for your mobile along with other ways to protect your data from hackers, crackers and trackers.

Cheers,

Sandra

[Photo by Sarah Van Quickelberge |Flickr.com]

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