One of the most important items at nearly every professional’s disposal these days is a smartphone.  No longer do you have to carry around a file full of business cards or phone numbers. Gone are the days of being tethered to a PC, but if your smartphone fell into the hands of a thief or hacker, you’re extremely vulnerable. By following these tips, you can minimize your risk:

  1. Password-protection.  By creating a unique code, you’re ensuring that an unauthorized user doesn’t have access to data on your phone should you misplace (temporarily or permanently) the device.
  2. Application review.  Read reviews of applications before installing them.  New or unreviewed apps can be wrought with security and privacy holes.
  3. Limit access.  Many apps use personal data stored on your phone (like contacts or GPS).  Make sure you know which apps are using what data and why.  Don’t allow apps access to data they don’t need, e.g. your calculator doesn’t need access to your contacts.
  4. Limit Bluetooth usage.  Typically, Bluetooth passwords are short and easy to figure out.  For those situations where you can’t do without a Bluetooth device, make sure the password is robust.  The safest way to prevent someone from listening in on your conversation is to use a wired connection.
  5. Regular housekeeping.  By reviewing applications on your device regularly and deleting those you don’t use, you prevent your phone unnecessary open connections to your data.
  6. Screen calls and texts.  Calls and text messages sent from unknown or blocked sources can leave you exposed to potential phishing schemes.  Search the web for any unknown numbers to determine if they’re related to any documented scams.
  7. Close browsers.  Some mobile sites will remain open indefinitely – even those that are password-protected.  Open pages can leave you vulnerable if you’re logged in to your bank or email.
  8. Verify updates.  Never trust an “update” link sent via email or text.  Go to your device’s app store or directly to the app developer’s website for verification.  Hackers use phishing techniques like this to gain access to user passwords.

Smartphones are our lives rolled into little package, but there’s no reason they can’t be safe.  By following these tips, you can keep your most sensitive data out of the hands of unscrupulous characters.