According to the 2017 CEFRIO survey, 62% of adults in Québec own a smartphone. These devices we use to communicate, navigate, take photos, make financial transactions and even gather data on our health also tend to carry a ton of other valuable information, not to mention documents.
That said, not only is it totally normal to want to protect your device from physical damage, it’s become a downright necessity with all the sensitive information the thing contains. If your phone falls into the hands of someone who’s less than honest, you could fall prey to fraud or even identity theft.
Here are some tips to protect the data on that precious phone of yours—share it with your parents, friends and workmates.
Don’t make it simple for scammers
When your phone is unlocked, most of your apps, photos and other personal data also become more easily accessible . . . and more easily shareable! That’s why it’s so strongly suggested that you keep your device on auto-lock. Select a solid password for added security. We know that you know that 1-1-1-1 and 1-2-3-4 are not exactly unhackable password choices…
The auto-lock setting may annoy several amongst you given how common it is to check our phones several times over the course of a day. The fingerprint scanner and facial recognition options are slightly less annoying, but remember that their effectiveness varies with the device and technology you’re using.
It’s also best to limit your app downloads to known ones that are available on Apple’s App Store, Amazon’s Appstore or Google Play. Apps coming from other sites are not regularly verified and are therefore more likely to come with viruses.
Before you install any app, take a few minutes to make sure that it’s regularly updated and beware of ones with very few comments on the download page. Update your apps, close them when they’re not in use and delete any you’re no longer using.
Finally, don’t forget to download and install software updates on your phone—it makes it harder for hackers to gain access to your device.
Also, remember that hackers like to use Bluetooth to pirate phones and access your personal information. So make sure you always turn Bluetooth off to make your device undetectable, unless you need to use it, of course! Refrain from activating Bluetooth in busy public spaces, which are common scenes of cybercrime. In general, it’s always good to exercise caution when connected to a public network whose security settings you can’t control.
You have the right to privacy
Would you let a stranger follow you wherever you go? That’s what ends up happening, though, when you don’t take the time to configure the location services on your smartphone.
Only authorize access to your location for apps that absolutely require it. The same goes for access to your camera, microphone and contacts.
Limit the damage when you lose your phone
By the late 2000s, surveys were already indicating that the majority of respondents would rather lose track of their wallet than their mobile device. Does the same go for you today?
Losing a phone comes with all kind of fuss. The consequences become more dire if your phone falls into the hands of a dishonest person.
Besides auto-locking your phone, it’s also recommended that you activate the option that allows you to erase your device’s content remotely. On iPhone, for example, you can erase your device on iCloud.com if you activated Find My iPhone prior to the event. In the event your phone is stolen, this precaution will at least prevent the thief from accessing your personal data.
Getting rid of your phone?
Last July, a young Ontario woman who thought her iPhone was garbage-worthy traded it in for a new one in-store in exchange for a rebate of a mere few dollars. Her phone was refurbished and resold to a man living in Dubai. The young woman was unpleasantly surprised when the new owner contacted her to compliment her on her personal photos.
Remember this story when you’re thinking of repairing, exchanging or selling your phone—back up your personal data and then erase it completely. Regularly backing up your content using your computer or the cloud is a good reflex to develop.
What to do when you become a victim of cybercrime
Unfamiliar service charges on your monthly invoice? Seeing messages or emails that you didn’t send on your phone? You might be the target of cybercriminals. If, despite taking all the necessary precautions, you do fall prey to cybercrime, act fast.
In such a case, or if your device is lost or stolen, inform your service provider immediately and contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre if need be.