Today there is not much tech news worthy of our time here, which is the norm for a Sunday morning. So as always when the tech news is light and I have a little time (and the energy) I often take the time to review something that I think is important for all of you, my dedicated readers.
I am on a short vacation @ Disney World for my birthday so what you have here is a well timed technology article!
OK I admit it. “People Watching” is actually a part of my Disney experience and one of the first things you notice about people these days, is that even when they are on vacation, most are glued to their smartphones.
Here are some tips for keeping your smartphone secure.
Do Not Have Your Phone Stolen
Sounds obvious, right? And yet it happens all the time. Did you know that 2.1 million cell phones were reported stolen in 2014. If a thief takes your phone, they can learn a lot about you, including where you live, where you work, who your bank is, your credit card information, saved passwords and much more.
Don’t bury your nose in your phone while you’re walking on the street, especially in large cities, or places like Disney World. Stay vigilant in tourist areas, which are usually hotbeds for pick pocketing. Keep your phone out of reach of criminals by keeping it your bag or front pocket.
Lock Your Phone!
If you don’t already have a screen lock, set it up now. It’s the most basic line of defense to stop thieves from riffling through your phone if it ends up in their hands.
On Android, you can use a password, PIN (pictured right) or swipe lock. PINs and passwords, especially ones longer than four characters, are harder to crack, so they’re a bit safer. Some Android phones also have fingerprint readers to unlock the screen, which is is a safe and convenient option.
With iPhones, you can use a PIN. For the iPhone 5S and newer there’s Touch ID which is a simple yet effective fingerprint lock. Pick whichever method works best for you and use it.
Any of these precautions will stop of bad day (losing your phone) from becoming a very scary day because all of your data will be locked out and you will have time to report the phone lost or stolen and have it wiped. More on that in upcoming article.
Track Your Phone!
Should your phone ever go missing, you can track its location and remotely lock or erase it. Here are a few steps to take to make sure you’re set up to do this.
On Android, go into the Google Settings app (separate from the regular Settings app) and tap Security. Under Android Device Manager, make sure both “Remotely locate this device” and Allow remote lock and erase” are turned on. With those two settings, you can track your phone on a map from your computer and erase your phone should it be stolen or misplaced.
Disney Magic + Device Finder = A Success Story
A personal Story. Two years ago one of my family members forgot his iPhone on a Disney bus when we were traveling to the Magic Kingdom. A short time after getting off the bus we were walking through the park when he realized the phone was missing. Using the Device Finder we could see that it was traveling through Disney property – on the bus. We called Disney customer support and they worked with the travel department and found the phone and returned it (within and a couple of hours). Yes there was some Disney Magic here but that could not have happened as easily if the Device Finder was not turned on.
For iPhones and other iOS-powered gadgets, Apple has Find My iPhone, a feature that is turned on by default and lets you find your iOS device on a map, lock it, and remotely wipe it. Log in into the Find iPhone app with your iCloud account to check that it’s set up correctly.
Always Use Protection (Especially You Android Users)
Antivirus protection, that is. Android phones (and to a lesser extent, iPhones) are susceptible to malware, but an app like Lookout, Avast or TrustGo scans your phone to find these dangerous programs and helps you remove them.
Though iPhones can get malware, there aren’t any antivirus apps you can use. Instead, Apple pushes out security patches when it finds flaws in iOS that would let malware get in.
Beware Free Wi-Fi
Free, unsecured Wi-Fi networks generally leave you vulnerable to other people checking out what you’re doing online. Even worse, an open Wi-Fi network could be a spoof designed explicitly to steal your information.
Free Wi-Fi at a cafe or airport is generally safe, but make sure you don’t access any sensitive information (like your bank’s website) while using them. Definitely steer clear of connecting to random open networks you don’t recognize. They aren’t worth the risk.
Avoid Clicking on Suspicious Links
Phishing is a common tactic criminals use to get you to reveal personal data or infect your phone with malware.
If you get a random text with link from someone you don’t know, do not click it. It could be someone trying to get information out of you, or worse, malware that can control your phone and send information back to hackers.
Check our my April 20th post about how to avoid email scams.
One final tip would be to simply leave the blasted phone home while on vacation but we all know that is simply not going to happen.