Seven good smartphone security habits

by Monica Vila:

As we load up our smartphones and tablets with more and more personal information, it’s time to get serious about mobile security. Despite the proliferation of cloud backup services, we still remain vulnerable to lost or stolen handsets, data theft, and various forms of malware.

But there are certain things we can do to help protect ourselves; things that should be second nature but end up being forgotten as we idly surf the Web or rush to download the latest app. They are the good smartphone security habits that can go a long way to making sure we stay ahead in the constant battle to keep our families safe in an increasingly complex digital world.

Utilize password protection

Treat your phone like a wallet and never leave it unattended in public places. Utilize whatever protection is available to lock your phone when it’s not in use, whether it’s fingerprint technology, a retina scan, or a straightforward password. Most newer phones incorporate features that will allow you to lock a phone if it is misplaced or stolen. Make sure you are familiar with the software and activate monitoring apps before they are required.

Keep your OS updated

Install operating system updates whenever they become available. Most OS releases will contain new security features and patches to correct earlier flaws. Don’t wait until you buy a new phone to take advantage of these regular updates.

Avoid suspicious links or websites

While mobile devices may not be as vulnerable as desktops or laptops, they can still be subject to malware that puts personal information at risk. Avoid clicking on suspicious links or visiting unknown websites, and never open e-mail attachments unless you know they are from a trusted source.

Be selective when installing apps

Be cautious about installing apps, particularly free apps from developers you have never heard of. Check the reviews and the required permissions. Many apps will ask for location and network access, so they can deliver mobile ads. Think carefully before you grant permissions to third-party developers and consider whether the app is truly necessary.

Do not store PINs or passwords

Many smartphones owners store PINs and password in Contacts or Notes, making themselves even more vulnerable in the event of a lost or stolen device. Keep passwords in a separate place. If you utilize a lot of mobile shopping apps, consider using a unique credit card in order to isolate those transactions from the rest of your financial activities.

Avoid using open Wi-Fi networks

Although it’s very tempting to jump on any available Wi-Fi network to protect your monthly data allowance, you should avoid open, unprotected networks. If you have to transfer media or other large files, wait until later and use your secure home network.

Backup your data

All the popular operating systems offer a limited amount of free storage when you register an account, including iOS (iCloud), Android (Google Drive) and Windows Phone (SkyDrive). This way, you can sync your information and data across several different devices and access it whenever and wherever you need it.

Monica Vila is the founder of The Online Mom

The views expressed by members of the ConnectSafely blogging network don’t necessarily relfect those of