Five Simple Steps for Smartphone Security

31/03/2015 11:24 BST | Updated 30/05/2015 10:59 BST

Despite the fact that smartphones are taken everywhere, regularly connect to public wifi and carry a large amount of personal data, people are still less likely to think about the security of their smartphones than the security of their computers. Smartphones also face threats from hackers and thieves, while malware such as ad libraries have become a growing problem in app stores. To make sure you're not on the receiving end of a hacking scheme, here are a few simple steps for keeping your smartphone secure:


1. Only download trusted and necessary apps: There's an app for everything but many, particularly in the phone personalization and games categories, are ad libraries. These are apps that have been monetised by adding targeted ads. Personal data can be abused and even leaked by these apps. There are also other threats from downloading unfamiliar apps, such as the risk of Malware.

2. Disable or limit use of location tracking: It may be handy, but should be only be used sparingly and people should be particularly cautious about allowing apps to use their phones' location tracking. Location tracking can allow hackers to create a picture of your day-to-day routine, making you vulnerable to identity theft or other dangers.

3. Don't trust free public Wifi: it goes without saying that a public wifi network is an easy target for hackers. Often poorly protected and used by vulnerable devices, it can put a lot of people at risks. To protect yourself, don't connect to a wifi without being able to verify the source. While connected use encryption and, if possible, avoid accessing sensitive data such as bank accounts or your work database.

4. Keep cloud storage secure: Dropbox, Evernote and other apps are very useful for sharing data. But leaving them constantly running on your smartphone can put all that data at risk. A stolen phone is frustrating, but if criminals get access to vulnerable data that you have stored in the cloud they could end up stealing a lot more that just your smartphone.

5. Encrypt your browser traffic: Using an encryption service such as ZenMate ads another layer of security and protects you while using public wifi, making it difficult for hackers to target you. Smartphone encryption is becoming easier and can ever offer benefits such as data compression. Amongst employers operating a bring-your-own device policy at work, only 13% required hardware encryption, and 23% required software encryption - even though encryption is one of the most effect ways of protecting user data.