Smartphones are a way of life for virtually everyone on the planet today. In fact, according to a Pew Research finding, 97 % of the American population owns and interacts with a smartphone.

Despite the ever-growing overdependence on smartphones, it’s a sad truth: smartphones aren’t as secure as we’d like them to be. If you use smartphones for anything other than texting and making calls, there’s a good chance it’s already been hacked.

It’s more interesting to know that despite all the security threats surrounding us today, most people don’t lock their phones or even use other security features that restrict access to their phones. A 2017  Pew research finding says that most people don’t have faith in modern institutions to secure their data. And some even go a mile further to neglect the best practices of cybersecurity in their daily lives. 

It’s high time that you mind the security of your smartphone if you don’t already. But what are some of the simplest but most secure ways to keep your data safe in your phone?  You can apply some simple steps to protect yourself from cyber-criminals and other online threats.

Here are 11 ways to keep your smartphone secure — from malware and ransomware to wireless attacks and identity theft.

Keep your home screen locked

Locking your home screen is the most basic form of security, to begin with. It’s the obvious way of keeping unauthorized persons from accessing your phone. And when you do it, don’t use easy to guess patterns or commonly used phrases such as birth dates.

Keep the password length at least 11 characters long to make it more difficult for anyone to hack their way into your private information.

Install and keep caller security apps updated

Thieves of private data are always determined to get hold of your data and can use calls to get access to your smartphone. You can install caller protection applications such as Firewall and Burner to prevent hackers and unwanted calls from accessing your phone.  

Firewall, available to iOS phone users, redirects unwanted calls to voicemail without invoking the ring alert. On the other hand, Burner regenerates a new phone number to be used instead of your actual phone number. The fake number can stay in use for as long as you like, after which you can dispose of it.

Avoid jailbreaking or rooting your phone

Anyone whole loves DIYs on anything technology probably knows what rooting in android or jailbreak in iOS is. Jailbreaking is when you’re able to access apps that are outside of Apple’s App Store. You can unlock your phone not just for texting and calling but also for accessing certain services, such as iTunes.

Rooting is rather like jailbreaking as it allows you to install certain unauthorized apps, access restricted memory and features of the phone that are only available to the operating system. Even though these activities sound promising as they elevate your phone’s performance, they come at the cost of security.

Rooting android and jailbreaking iPhone devices removes the security features of your operating system, which are essential for keeping the OS safe from corruption. Once the core security features of your OS are disabled, the phone becomes vulnerable to hackers, stalkers, and identity theft.

Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication

The primary line of defense to secure your acocunts against hackers is a password. Use random, hard-to-crack passwords with at least 14 characters. Always use different passwords for every account. And use two-factor authentication (2F), which means you’ll need something you know (your password) and something you have (a unique access code or token) to log in.

In most cases, 2F sends a text message with a code to your phone, which will be required anytime someone tries to access your account, whether email, social media, or banking platforms.

Don’t click on ads, download free apps, or visit shady websites

Your mobile device is a fun and valuable tool, but it can be a dangerous place for your identity. And personal information thieves always use devious tactics to lure you into submitting your data to them. One common way is to post displays ads with enticing titles such as, “earn $100 in an hour doing this” or “reduce body fats in 7 days with this secret recipe.”

These ads will only redirect you to other shady websites which can access your private data.

Conclusion

There’s a lot that you can do to keep your smartphone secure. These include avoiding public Wi-Fi, turning off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use, storing your passwords in an encrypted file, and using a VPN if you have to use public Wi-Fi at a café.