We all need to be constantly aware of the risks involved with using a smartphone, especially the risks associated with our privacy. Actual phone theft, as well as hacking and access to personal information, are all key risks. As the technology on our phones continues to become more sophisticated in 2019, so too will the would-be hackers and thieves in their effort to access our privacy.
5 Privacy Tips to Keep Any Mobile User Safe – Guide 2019
These five tips will ensure better privacy and phone safety for the year ahead.
1) Avoid Public Networks
Public WiFi Networks, such as the one you may find in a restaurant, on a train or perhaps in a town centre are exactly that, public. Obviously, there is a benefit to using a Public Network system as it means you take advantage of free WiFi rather than adding to your data usage.
However, using such a network means serious risks to your privacy. Anyone else using the same network can potentially hack into your phone and the ways that hackers are able to do this have become increasingly clever. There will, of course, be times when you need to use a Public Network, but keep it for checking the news and not for making financial transactions.
2) Use a VPN
Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your mobile phone can seriously reduce the risk of using Public Networks. A VPN means you can access your home or work network, even when you’re not there. When you are using a VPN via a public network, your activity is encrypted so would-be hackers cannot access your activity.
According to this Private Internet Access review, a good low-cost VPN can really help with keeping your privacy safe. VPNs were once only used by tech-minded individuals, but in 2019 we can expect to see more and more clever users take advantage of VPN services.
3) Securing a Lock Screen
This is, of course, the most obvious way to ensure an essential level of privacy on your mobile phone. But sometimes it’s the most obvious steps that we forget. A passcode will mean that even if someone does steal your phone, they can’t actually access your information. Make sure you have a lock screen that comes on as soon as you stop using your phone.
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Go to the Settings section of your mobile phone and to Passcode, choose a code and set it to ‘Require Passcode Immediately’, which will mean every time you click the standby button on the side of your phone, it cannot be used again until the passcode has been entered. Remember that even leaving your phone unlocked on your desk, when you pop to the loo, for instance, gives colleagues time to jump on it and access personal information. Make your passcode hard to remember; six digits is better than four. Your date of birth, child’s date of birth or landline number are just too easy for someone to guess, make it something that no one else knows.
Alternatively, opt for facial recognition (unless you have an evil twin of course!) or fingerprint ID to open the phone. Both of these (fingerprint scanning/facial recognition) are set to become commonplace on new phone models and be superior in technology in 2019.
4) Location Settings
It’s really important to turn off the Location Services on your phone if you want as much privacy as possible. Again, in the year ahead Location Services will become ever more present in our technology and so too will the sophistication of hackers who’ll take advantage of this.
Of course, location settings can be useful, it means local weather or the nearest petrol station can be found quickly, but not so much quicker than a Google search, let’s be honest. Not only do you need to switch Location Services to ‘Off’ in your settings, but you also need to check that you haven’t given permission for it to be switched back ‘On’ when you download a new App.
Some clever Apps will automatically turn location settings ‘On’ when you agree on multiple permissions at once, potentially giving away information to other app users about your location.
5) Be App Happy
It’s not just Location Services which Apps may access. By asking for multiple permissions in one click, you may miss the many other facets of your life that a new App is asking to have access to. This can include your personal calendar, your photos, your email contacts or even your emails. Before you download any app, read the reviews first, and check the App developer is legitimate.
Avoid Apps suggested by Third Parties and only download from the iTunes App Store or Google Play. When you do download an App, carefully manage the App permissions to ensure it is not getting access to anything you don’t want it to. Potentially risky Apps change all the time, so you need to stay on top of things.