We do love our mobile devices, don’t we? We love them so much, in fact, that last year some industry estimates predicted there would be more smartphones than humans on the planet. At just over 7.3 billion anticipated devices, that’s a lot of connectivity happening.
Living a mobile lifestyle does not come without risk, especially where our identities are concerned. But staying mobile secure doesn’t have to be complicated. Consider this: 94.2% of identity victims say they are still highly engaged online and via their mobile devices despite having had their personally identifiable information stolen, according to a recent study from the Identity Theft Resource Center.
So how do we stay safe with so many of us relying our mobile devices for news, information, and entertainment? There are a number of ways our devices can “betray” us to an identity thief, so it’s important to make sure we do our best to safeguard our devices and our information.
Follow these five tips:
1. Remember that your phone or tablet is just like a tiny computer and can be vulnerable to viruses and malicious software. This is especially true if you click a link from an email that is designed to steal your data. Be sure to keep your operating system in your device up to date, and install any updates from the manufacturer as they become available.
2. Password protect all your devices. It only takes a few swipes of your fingertip to keep a thief from instantly accessing everything on your phone or tablet if the device is lost or stolen. Also turn on the feature that lets you find the device remotely if it does end up missing, as this will help you not only get it back, but disable the device if you’re certain it’s gone.
3. Know how you’re connecting. It’s one thing to access online banking or your credit card’s secure website if you’re connecting at home, but try to avoid logging in from a free public hotspot. If you must connect in a public place, use a VPN like PRIVATE WiFi to ensure that all the data you send and receive on that open connection is protected from prying eyes.
4. While you’re online, make sure you know about the latest threats, scams, fraud alerts, and phishing attempts. Too many cases of identity theft are the result of user error, such as falling for requests for information or becoming a victim of phishing attempts. Websites like the Identity Theft Resource Center and many others contain up-to-date information on current issues.
5. Finally, know the permissions you’ve given to various apps on your phone or tablet. Apps need certain permissions in order to operate, and may include tracking your location, reading your data and contacts, taking pictures, or sending messages. Make sure that you trust the app developer with this information.
The use of mobile devices to conduct business and run our daily lives will only continue to grow, so make sure that you are doing all that you can to keep yourself safe in the new year.