Tech Tips

How to keep the information on your phone safe and secure

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.

According to Asurion claims data*, nearly 2,000 phones are lost or stolen every single hour — that’s almost 17 million phones a year.

The likelihood of your phone being lost or stolen increases if you’re an iPhone user, and the likelihood also increases for men (score one for you, ladies). Protect your personal data – and your peace of mind – with these tips from our tech experts.

Three helpful tips for creating a strong passcode for your smartphone:

  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. Sure, it’s slightly annoying, but having your information stolen would be a lot more more troubling. Also, if you ever notice strange behavior on your phone, change your password first as a precautionary measure.

How to change your passcode on an iPhone:

How to keep the information on your phone safe and secure
  1. From the Home Screen, tap the Settings app icon.
  2. Tap Touch ID & Passcode.
  3. Enter the current Passcode.
  4. Tap Change Passcode and then enter current Passcode.
  5. Enter the new Passcode.
  6. Verify new Passcode.

How to change your pin on an Android:

  1. From the Home screen, pull down the Notification Bar and tap Settings.
  2. Tap Lock Screen and Security.
  3. Tap Screen Lock Type.
  4. Enter current PIN.
  5. Tap PIN.
  6. Enter new PIN.
  7. Enter new PIN again.

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 belong in a safer space.

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 steal your information. It sounds complicated to try to keep track of a bunch of different passwords, but thankfully, there are apps like LastPass or Keeper that can help keep track of them all for you. Those apps can also help create strong passwords with one click with the built-in password generator.

Be wary of 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.

Avoid 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 most wise 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.

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.

Turn on find my phone features

GPS is great for lots of things: finding your way around traffic, finding a great happy hour after work, and finding your phone in case it’s lost or stolen. 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.

*Source: 2017 Asurion Claims Data and 2016 CTIA Wireless Customer Information