How to Secure Your Data Privacy on Cell Phones?

Have you ever Googled yourself?

The amount of personal information listed about people online is astounding. From social media profiles to professional connections, a quick internet search can tell you a lot about a person. With the WWDC just released, Apple has launched an updated data privacy policy. If you’re asking yourself, “How to best protect the data on my phone??”, buckle up! 

When it comes to data privacy, there are certain things we expect to see online. If you buy a home or get divorced, these things become accessible through public records. But who you went to high school with, and a picture you shared in your email group shouldn’t leak beyond your personal accounts.

At the Google I/O 2021, exciting updates were announced with a large focus on privacy. Protecting personal data has become a topic of everyday conversation. After the Colonial Pipeline Hack, we can’t underestimate how important data security is to average people.

Mitigating Risk in Data Privacy

We’re always in the business of figuring out how to optimize any and every aspect of our lives. We have safety nets for our safety nets, and it’s a good thing we do. Mitigating risk in data privacy is as simple as keeping an eye out for a few key points. Knowing the difference between a legitimate website and a site that is prone to malware is easy enough to learn.

  • If you find yourself having to fight off constant pop-ups at every turn, there’s a good chance you should just exit out of that site and try a more reputable one.
  • If you have to install software, do so from the source.
  • You shouldn’t have to run an Adobe download from a random clothing store page. 
  • If you can recognize a problem before you have to solve it, you’re 10 steps ahead. Getting ahead means lowering your chances of experiencing nefarious activity on your phone.

If it’s not a reputable source, chances are other customers have had unfavorable experiences and left reviews about it. Today, we have to worry about preventing identity theft, data breaches, and access to sensitive information. That is why it is so important to learn how to tell the difference between a trustworthy site and a potential threat. 

How to Protect the Data on Your Phone

For most of us, our phones have been on quite the journey in our pockets. From accidentally falling into the toilet or flung off the top of your car roof while you’re driving away, they deserve all the protection we can offer them. Be it months or years, you’ve probably transferred data from your old phones over to your new ones. If you ever bought a secondhand phone and opted to do a factory reset, you’re already in good shape.

When you buy a new phone, it defaults to the factory settings. Factory settings mean your phone is a clean slate without a trace of information about you. Setting up your phone for success can look like:

  • Password protection
  • Biometric authentification
  • Software updates
  • Malware protection 
  • Manage privacy preferences
  • Monitor usage

The most basic form of protection is a password or pin number. While with enough time they can be broken into, the time need can be substantial. Additionally, iOS defaults to having protection against excessive pin entries. So, if a hacker tries to brute force their way through your password protection the phone will lock itself. 

Biometric Authentification

While passwords are a good start, most security experts think that the future of data security will feature two-factor authentification and biometric authentification. Two factor authentification is as simple as adding an additional question or email verification to a login. 

Biometric authentification is they use unique biological markers to provide additional security to your device. FaceID and Touch ID are some examples of biometric authenitfication tools. These tools are unique to the individual and when the technology is working properly it cannot be brute forced the way a password can. 

Software Updates

Software updates often include bug fixes, new patches, and modernized security features. By staying current with your software updates you protect your data privacy. The 2017 hack of Equifax is an example of how important it can be to regularly update your software. Equifax declined a patch that would have helped prevent this data breach, so learn from their mistakes and keep your software up-to-date. So yes, this means not hitting “ignore” or “remind me tomorrow” for the thousandth time when your phone reminds you to update your software. 

Malware Protection

In the evolution of the information age, you’ve probably heard the term malware thrown around here and there. Malware is a type of software created to harm your phone or computer’s operating system. You can avoid malware by practicing a few mindful steps when using your phone. Keep an eye out for apps or ads that look too good to be true. You can check out reviews of apps to see if other folks struggled with that particular software. A reputable app or website will have minimal popups and have a clear outline.

Manage privacy preferences 

People often talk about being careful about what you put on the Internet. But those same people often are the ones that agree to terms and conditions without reading them. The internet is a new underregulated frontier, so social media platforms and businesses have access to far more information than they need to be privy to. 

Apple has updated their iOS to block apps from collecting excessive information through their App Tracking Transparency policy. However, we should all be considering what information we have allowed our apps to gather. Does our fitness tracker really need access to our phone book and GPS location?

A general rule of thumb is, if an app is free then selling your data is the business plan. Going back through free apps and monitoring what the app is allowed to do is a good idea. Sometimes you’ll be surprised what you will find and in the event of a company-wide security breach, you’ll never know who else has that information. 

Monitor Usage

Remember howMom and Grandma would proudly exclaim they had eyes in the back of their heads? It’s time to channel your nana. Being all eyes and ears isn’t enough. Set alarms and notifications for things like large charges from your bank account.

Keep an eye out for suspicious activity on your accounts. If you’re a business owner, talk with your staff about how they can protect themselves while utilizing company credit cards or user accounts. Although tedious, discussion about data privacy protection is never a waste of time. This article can serve as a document of awareness that you can reference whenever you’d like (bookmark it!).

Stay Current

A big part of riding the data privacy awareness train is staying up to date with the most current information.

Your phone makes it annoyingly clear that said update is pertinent to your phone’s optimal functionality. And when your phone is functioning at its peak, you have a better chance of staying protected.

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