Keep Your Mobile Phone Safe from Cybercriminals

If you're like millions of other people, you use your smartphone to send text messages, check your email, access your financial accounts and medical records, and to store data such as contact address lists and maybe even lists of passwords.

Unfortunately, you're not doing enough to protect those messages and information from web-based threats such as viruses and spyware, or the possibility of loss and theft.

Take these precautions to keep the information on your smartphone out of the hands of cybercriminals:

  • Set up a PIN (personal identification number). It's usually a four-digit password. Don't use common passwords such as your birthdate, mother's maiden name, or pet names. For iPhones, look in the General setting for a Passcode Lock. Android devices have a Location and Security option. If you have a BlackBerry, go to Options, then Security.
  • Use caution when downloading apps. Use recognized sources only, such as Apple’s App Store, Google’s Android Market, and Amazon’s Appstore. Regardless of the source, read reviews and scrutinize requested permissions before downloading an app.
  • Use a free security service. Many smartphone makers have over-the-air backup, remote phone locating, remote phone locking, and data-erasing capabilities. Apple makes a free Find My iPhone app for iPhone 4 and later versions; for Androids and BlackBerries, try an app called Lookout. This software allows you to lock the phone—or even erase data—remotely. Lookout soon will be available for all versions of iPhones.
  • Disable your browser's auto-fill feature. Android and iPhone mobile Web browsers will remember your usernames and passwords for websites you visit often, making it easy for anyone who picks up your lost phone to log into your accounts.
    For the iPhone: Tap Settings, Safari, Auto-fill, then turn the Names & Passwords switch off. For Android: Open the browser, tap the Menu key, then tap settings; under the Security Settings heading, clear the Remember Passwords checkbox.
  • Secure your passwords. Take them out of your memos and contact list info, and get a password management app instead. Newer BlackBerries have a built-in password organizer, called Password Keeper. Find it in the Applications menu. For other smartphones, check out password management apps such as PasswordWallet, 1Password, LastPass, and SplashID.
  • Find out how to change your settings to not allow geotagging on photos and videos. A geotag is a bit of data embedded in photos and videos that provides the longitude and latitude of where the photo or video was taken.
  • Turn off your Bluetooth when not in use. Most important for security, while the automatic nature of the bluetooth connection is a huge benefit in terms of time and effort, it's also a benefit to people looking to send you data without your permission.

These tips are about the device itself, but the No. 1 rule of security is to not connect to public Wi-Fi networks or networks you aren't familiar with to do important tasks. For example, don't check your Advantis Credit Union accounts when connected to a public Wi-Fi network in a restaurant.

If you'd like to set up Advantis mobile banking on your phone, give us a call, stop in, or visit us online to find out how to get started.