mobile security tips

4 tips to keep your mobile devices more secure

According to the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 own smartphones. That statistic means that young Americans are more connected than ever. Unfortunately, it also suggests that more criminals will begin targeting smartphones and other mobile devices.

Follow these four tips to keep your mobile devices secure. Doing so could protect you from online scams, identity theft, lost productivity, and other problems.

Don’t use public Wi-Fi

Nearly everywhere you go these days, you can access public Wi-Fi that lets you connect to the internet. Businesses, including coffee shops and airports, provide public Wi-Fi because they know their customers don’t want to pay for data use.

Unfortunately, public Wi-Fi gives hackers an easy way to spy on your activity and access your devices. Practically any computer-literate person could learn to eavesdrop on public Wi-Fi within an hour.

If you’re worried about exceeding your allotted data for the month, spend a little more money on an unlimited data plan. An unlimited plan will cost you less than correcting the problems caused by identity theft.

Related: 9 key elements of an internal IT security policy

Choose a trustworthy screen lock

Ideally, you’ll never let your mobile device leave your sight. In reality, though, you’ll eventually leave your device sitting on a table while you rush to the nearest restroom. That’s when a trustworthy screen lock keeps your private information safe.

Don’t choose a random screen lock app. Research your options so you can select one that truly protects you and your device. Some features to look for include:

  • The ability to use a password or pattern instead of a PIN.
  • Biometrics that can authenticate your identity.
  • The option to wipe the device after a certain number of failed login attempts.

Auto-wiping your mobile device may sound extreme, but it’s your best security option against someone willing to try 10 or more passwords to access your phone.

Research apps before you install them

If you own an Android device, then you should get all your apps directly from Google Play. If you have an Apple device, then you should use the App Store exclusively. Installing apps that you find on other websites could make you a target of online scams.

Granted, Google Play and the App Store aren’t perfect. Occasionally, a developer will submit an app that steals your data. The stores have gotten better at identifying scam apps, though. Google, for instance, now uses Play Protect to find malware hidden in apps.

Still, it makes sense for you to do some research before you download or install any app. If you find something suspicious about an app, don’t add it to your mobile device. It’s not worth the risk.

Install antivirus software

You can become the victim of an online scam without downloading an app. Simply visiting certain websites will put your mobile device in danger.

Of course, you can’t know ahead of time which sites will try to install malware on your smartphone. That means you need to install antivirus software that will recognize and block threats.

Some of the most popular antivirus apps for Android devices include:

  • Avast Mobile Security
  • Bitdefender
  • AVL

For Apple devices, try options like:

  • Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac
  • Avast
  • Bitdefender (there are separate versions for Android and Apple devices)

Related: Email spoofing 101

Keeping your devices secure will become increasingly important as more criminals learn that they can target users easily. At the very least, you need to create a strong password for your mobile device. The more protection you add, though, the safer you and your mobile device are.