5 Mobile Safety Hacks to Beef Up Your Privacy

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Online privacy is a hot topic these days, mostly because it's a growing concern for many users, organizations, and enterprises. Because of the ubiquitous presence of the Internet in our lives, we’ve become more reliant and attached to our devices, especially to smart phones and tablets that allow us to connect wherever there's a data signal.

While it offers a lot of benefits, the constant connectivity that our devices allow also has a downside: the more hours we spend online, the more we give and share information. Most of the time, especially on social media, we tend to reveal more than we ought to, and some of the time, we even unwittingly share sensitive information.

These details about who you are, what you do, where you live, and other intimate facets of your life are inherently valuable to you, and you should take the proper steps to secure them as much and as often as possible. But did you know that your email address, social media accounts, and banking credentials are worth a lot of money to companies and cybercriminals alike? If they know where you go, what you like, and what you do online, they'll know what hooks to use to hack into our accounts, steal identities, and even your money.

Protect Your Data, Not Just Your Device

The personal data and files stored in the average person's mobile device is a treasure trove for a cybercriminal. Unsafe habits can allow it to be compromised through a number of ways, from the use of unsecure connections, downloading fake apps, or through the use of spam and social engineering tactics. And when you lose a phone, you may be losing something more than a phone.

That's why it's important to protect not only your mobile devices from theft, but also the data stored in it. While there may not be much you can do for a lost phone, there are ways to ensure that the data stored in it can't be accessed or used by anyone else. Here are five useful mobile safety hacks to protect your data and ensure your privacy:

1.     Enable your device’s built-in security settings – Turn on your device’s password lock to serve as your first level of defense. Use a passcode that's hard to guess to make it harder for the bad guys to get your data even if your phone gets stolen.

2.     Download only from official app stores – some third party apps could come with malware that could infect your device. Stick to official app stores to avoid possible data theft.

3.     Don’t overshare on social media – Everyone tends to overshare, but keep in mind that this habit can put you at risk of getting hacked. Never share personal information on social media, and this includes your address, current location—and, if it can be helped, your full name and birth date. An identity thief can gather your personal details just by looking at your profile or posts.

4.     Connect to secure networks – you might not realize it but unsecured Bluetooth and free WiFi connections can be easily exploited by cybercriminals. In fact, intercepting an unsecure network could be pretty trivial to them. If possible, avoid connecting to public or open networks.

5.     Use complex and unique passwords – even if it’s convenient for you to use 1234 or your birthday for your password, avoid doing so. Cybercriminals can easily crack these types of passwords and get into your accounts. As much as possible, use complicated passphrases with a good mix of characters instead of passwords.

Follow these mobile tips and you'll be able to ensure that your information stays safe. These will help you avoid getting your personal – and potentially even your professional – privacy violated.

Posted 13 August, 2015

Angela Gaddi

Freelance Writer

Angela writes about IT security, privacy, free speech, politics, social media, and the intersection of business and consumer tech. Has a special aptitude for privacy, cult literature, film noir.

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