Crime-proofing your smartphone

Internet on your phone – it gives you a reason to live, and something to do in a queue. But as our phones become the centre of our internet selves, they also contain increasingly important information, becoming the target of cyber crime. Whether it’s malware and phishing scams, or you’ve actually just lost it, there are dozens of ways to protect your smartphone and the data on it.

Most security breaches come from human error – that’s you dropping your phone, not putting a PIN lock, or, gulp, keeping your passwords on a piece of paper with the phone. But actual hacking is on the rise as more and more of us become attractive targets who like to bank by phone and download random apps from random sites. Here’s what to do to crime-proof your phone.


Download apps from official sites

Whether it's the new Angry Birds expansion, or a serious new app to help you send vast sums of money over the internet, download it from your phone’s app store, or your bank's official site. If your bank doesn't have an app – and you just have to send money on your mobile, like, right now – double check in your smartphone browser for the https (instead of http).


Download updates to your smartphone OS

The virus world is a rapidly changing one, and protections that were solid last year – even last month – probably aren’t cutting it now. So download OS updates when they’re available to stay current.


Protect from malware

Arm your smartphone to the hilt with antivirus apps that act as digital barriers anywhere your smartphone can make connections – that’s over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or mobile internet.

We like: Lookout Mobile Security


Prevent unauthorised access

 Guard your data – whether it’s corporate email or embarrassing drunken snaps – by locking your smartphone so that only you can unlock it. Some privacy apps also grant limited access, say for iPads that the whole family uses.

We like: Bullguard Mobile Security 10


Lock your phone already

The easiest way to protect your data is to put a password lock on it. But if you’re a little paranoid about people accessing your stuff, check out Motorola’s Atrix and its fingerprint scanner that lets you swipe a finger to gain access.

Or, if you use an Android Ice Cream Sandwich phone, how about using Face Unlock? Surely nothing's safer as a key than your own unique mug – but even Google warns it's a low security feature, as a good photograph can fool the software. On the flip side, bad lighting, different hair or the addition of glasses prevents you from gaining entry.


Fix it if you didn’t do the above

Antitheft apps offer features that come in handy if your phone is lost and stolen – for example, allowing you to remotely locate, lock or wipe your phone. These apps also back up your data, from media to contacts.

We like: McAfee WaveSecure, Lookout Mobile Sercurity (premium)

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