November 1st, 2021

How to secure your phone from hackers

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How to create a strong passcode for your phone

For many of us, our phones are our mini personal assistants, keeping track of everything from our whereabouts to our bank information. We give a lot of thought to all of our phone’s fun features and how much easier they can make our lives by being connected to everything – but have you given much thought lately to how secure your information is? We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but thieves and hackers probably have.

Knowing what to do if your phone is lost or stolen is important—especially considering that Asurion claims data shows it happens to nearly 2,000 phones every single hour—but protecting your device from intruders in the first place is also essential. Asurion Experts help our 300 million customers (and counting) diagnose and resolve their device problems, and know how to help keep your tech secure. Here are their top 9 suggestions to protect your personal data, and your peace of mind.

1. Create a strong passcode for your phone

First and foremost, make sure that you have an extra layer of protection added to your phone to keep it safe and enable a screen lock. That way, if you do lose your phone, someone won't be able to open it easily.

3 tips for creating a strong passcode:

  1. Think of numbers as letters to help you create a passcode that is challenging, but something that will be memorable for you. For example, if you’re a foodie with a sweet tooth, you might use CAKE (2253) or PIES (7437).
  2. Avoid obvious number combinations like 1-2-3-4 or repetitive codes like 1-1-1-1.
  3. Don’t use numbers that can be easily guessed like your birth date, anniversary, your phone number, etc.

Changing your passcode is relatively easy on both the iPhone and Android platforms, so it’d be smart to make it a habit to hop in and change it on a recurring basis. Also, if you ever notice strange behavior on your phone, change your password first as a precautionary measure.

2. Use a different password for each of your online accounts

Having the same password for everything makes you an easy target for thieves and hackers to steal your information. It sounds complicated to try to keep track of a bunch of different passwords, but thankfully, there are password manager apps like LastPass or Keeper that can help keep track of them for you. Those apps can also help create strong passwords with one click with the built-in password generator.

Don’t store your passwords in an unprotected app or file, and don't list them out in an email or your Notes app. You'll only leave yourself and your personal information vulnerable to hackers. If someone were to access your device, email address, or phone number, they'd suddenly have your passwords—and could change most of them immediately.

3. Be smart about the information you keep on your phone

If your phone ever lands in the wrong hands, they have an open invitation to access whatever you’ve stored on your device. Protect yourself by keeping your most personal information in a safe place, and not on your smartphone. Information like your social security number, driver’s license, or passport number simply belongs in a safer space.

4. Avoid using public Wi-Fi

In the confines of your own home, your Wi-Fi is usually secure. When you’re on a public network, however, all bets are off. If you use a public wireless network, you open yourself up to snooping from anyone in the vicinity. If you need to use a public connection (and we all often find ourselves in this situation), use it wisely. Don’t access sensitive information like online banking, digital wallets or payment apps. Check out our 6 tips for safely using public Wi-Fi.

You can also turn off Wi-Fi auto-connect and Bluetooth® if you're not using them. And finally, turn off your personal Wi-Fi hotspot when you're not using it; password protect it when you are.

5. Don’t use the auto sign-in feature

We know it’s incredibly tempting to use auto sign-in because of its convenience, but it’s not the wisest choice for all apps. It may be reasonable to use for something like Pinterest, but not at all for apps that contain sensitive information, like your banking app. If that information ever ended up in the wrong hands, you’ll be out a whole lot more than just your phone.

6. Keep your accounts separate

As tempting as it may be to use your Facebook or Google account to sign in to websites, apps and social media, we wouldn’t recommend it. Linking sites together through single sign-on can be a risky adventure. A hacker would only need to access one account to hack them all. The easiest way to avoid this is to create separate accounts or disconnect any apps that are linked together.

7. Download apps and games securely

Downloading apps or games from the App Store or Google Play store is safe, but be wary of downloading anything that doesn't come from a secure website or certified app store. Secure websites usually have a padlock icon to the left of the URL in the address bar.

It's also a good idea to use two-factor authentication on your apps. Also called “two-step" and “verification," two-factor authentication offers an extra layer of security by requiring you to provide two pieces of information to log in: your password and a verification code that's either texted to your phone number or emailed to one of your trusted devices. This way, even if someone steals your password, they can't log in.

8. Be wary of strange attachments and links

Do not click, follow, or download any links or attachments without being sure of the sender's intentions. Clicking a suspicious link can lead you to a website that will automatically download an app, file, or program that could compromise your device.

Hackers also have the ability to text you from a friend's number or send you an email from the address of someone you know. If you receive a message asking an odd favor or offering an unrequested gift, it could be a trick from a hacker. Contact the sender for an explanation before following any links or downloading any attachments.

9. Turn on find my phone features

It almost goes without saying, but if you leave your phone out in public or lose it, someone can potentially guess or trick your security code to unlock the device. It's a simple thing, then, to load any spyware, malware, or other harmful things onto your device. If you have your phone’s native find-my-phone option enabled, you can track your phone’s location or remotely erase your data to protect your privacy.

On Android, go to Settings > Lock Screen and Security > Find My Mobile.

On iOS, go to Settings > {Your Name} > iCloud > Find My iPhone.

Protect your phone

For more than 25 years, Asurion has helped 300 million customers protect, connect, and enjoy the tech they love most. And smartphones are no exception. Your life is on your device, make sure it’s protected. Learn more about Asurion phone insurance plans today.

*The Asurion® trademarks and logos are the property of Asurion, LLC. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Asurion is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by any of the respective owners of the other trademarks appearing herein.*

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