Free and paid smartphone security options

Once, a phone was just a phone: It simply made and received calls. Nowadays, are pretty much computers that also make calls. In fact, your smartphone is likely more powerful and feature-rich than your desktop computer was ten years ago.

With that increased utility, though, comes more vulnerability. Having a wealth of information in your device makes your phone a target, and as the bad guys ramp up their efforts to infiltrate it, the good guys are gearing up their efforts to keep the bad guys out.

Threats to your mobile security are not always easy to see. They range from the simple (such as when someone finds your phone and reads all of your e-mail) to the highly complex (such as Trojan horses, viruses, or third-party apps that share your personal information and try to collect your credit card information).

Smartphone security image
Smartphone security image

You could lose your pictures, your contacts, your messages and even have your bank information stolen if you have an unprotected smartphone. But there are many security for smarphone softwares out there that will keep viruses out and also help you locate your smartphone in case you lose it or get robbed.

Fundamental features of smartphone security

When looking for protection for your smartphone, owners should pay attention to a few basic characteristics. Not only, protection against malware and threats that aim to have access to your passwords and information remotely, a good smartphone security app should also secure you against physical theft or loss.

  • Lock the device with a PIN or password

Most phones already lock your phone as well as your SIM card and even a mobile wallet with a PIN, pattern, finger or face recognition. What a few mobile security apps do is add extra digits for example for passwords and the ability to recover the password if forgotten or even remove the protection in case you are at home, at your own WIFI network.

  • Find your phone in case it’s lost or stolen

Smartphone security should also help you find your phone if it’s lost or stolen. This allows you to ring your phone, locate it on a map, lock it, or erase data remotely from your browser or another phone. Note that this regularly reports the phone’s location—and yours. Consider how long this history is retained and whether it can be shared or sold.

  • Protect your phone against malware

Phones are susceptible to malicious software (malware) activity. These malwares hide in a apps like a ringtone or game, but execute hidden code designed to exploit or damage the system; running the app unleashes the malware on your phone.

Install reputable apps

Download apps only from major app stores—the Windows Phone Store or Apple’s App Store, for example—and stick to popular apps with numerous reviews and comments.

Keep your phone up to date

  • Just as you do on your computer, accept and install all updates offered for both the phone itself and the apps on it.
  • Uninstall apps that you don’t use.

Don’t jailbreak your phone

Most phones will run only software that their operating system trusts. Jailbreaking (or unlocking) a phone enables it to run untrusted software, which is much more likely to carry a harmful virus.

Accept incoming content cautiously

  • Avoid clicking links in ads and contests that promise free prizes or gifts.
  • Watch out for text messages that look too good to be true.
  • If your phone works with Bluetooth technology or NFC standards (which support, for example, mobile wallets), turn them off if you’re not using them. Bluetooth and NFC technologies allow two devices to “talk” to each other wirelessly at close range. Disabling these features blocks unwanted downloads and keeps intruders from reading data stored on your phone.

Protect your privacy

    • Do not bank, shop, check email, or do other business that exposes your user name or password over “borrowed” or public Wi-Fi (like a hotspot). It’s safer to use the mobile phone’s network, which encrypts data as it is transmitted. Smartphone security will warn you about the dangers of such networks and how apps are using your data and the access to info on your phone.
    • Be wary of features that offer to save user names or passwords in your browser and financial service or other apps that store sensitive data.
    • Share your location only with those you trust.

Use GPS features wisely

Many services—weather, movies, and maps, for example—personalize results by using location data from your phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) or nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers.

Your phone’s camera can use GPS to automatically embed information about the spot where a photo was taken, called geotagging. Facebook and Twitter can also use GPS to geotag status messages and tweets posted from your phone. This can be a risk because you may not be able to control how that data is used and by whom.

  • Think carefully before you turn on geotagging.
  • Limit the apps that you allow to access your location and link to social media with care.
  • Get permission from others before you tag them in photos or check them in.

Back up your phone

Back up your phone to your computer, cloud storage, or both so always have a copy of the files on your phone, like your pictures.

Security for Smartphones