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7 ways to hack-proof your smartphone to keep your data safe

7 ways to hack-proof your smartphone to keep your data safe
Studioclover | Dreamstime
© Dave Bredeson | Dreamstime.com

We're always warning you of the latest cybercrimes. Data breaches, ransomware and phishing attacks are constantly in the headlines these days.

It's not just criminals trying to break into our gadgets either. It was recently leaked that the CIA has been hacking smartphones, TVs and other items to spy on us for years. Knowing that seemingly everyone is after our personal information, it's a good idea to take safety precautions.

That's why it's important for you to know these seven ways to hack-proof your smartphone to keep your data safe.

1. Update your software

One of the most important safety precautions as a smartphone user is to keep its operating system (OS) up to date. It's important because, when OS vulnerabilities are discovered, updates are sent out that contain patches for those flaws.

That makes it critical to install OS updates ASAP. Here are the steps to update both Apple iOS and Android OS:

Apple

Go into your "Settings" app and select "General." From there, select "Software Update" and your iPhone will begin to check for updates. Then select "Download and Install."

Android

Open Settings >> Tap About Phone >> Tap System Updates >> If there is an available update tap Restart and Install.

2. Keep criminals out of your phone

If your phone is stolen, the thief can gain access to all of the sensitive data that's stored in it. That means it is important to make it as difficult for them to get into it as possible.

Apple

iPhones used to only allow you to create a four-digit passcode for protection.

Do the math on that and you'll realize that allows just 10,000 passcode combinations. Now consider that someone watching you might see the simple combination you use to enter your passcode. Or, someone who knows you well might guess your four-digit passcode based on your birthday, street address or another PIN you use a lot.

Now, Apple gives you the chance to create stronger alternatives. You can choose between a four-digit numeric code, a six-digit numeric code, a custom numeric code, or a custom alphanumeric code. These options are more secure than the original four-digit option.

Go to Settings >> Touch ID & Passcode >> Tap Turn Passcode On >> Enter a six-digit passcode or tap Passcode Options and choose among the options we've listed above >> Enter your passcode again to confirm it and activate it.

Android

Android phones have multiple options when it comes to setting a screen lock. Go to Settings >> tap Security under the Personal section >> tap Screen lock. You will see a few options to choose from:

  • None - This leaves you with no lock screen security.
  • Swipe - Selecting this option is basically the same as having no lock screen security. Anyone can unlock your gadget by swiping the lock screen.
  • Pattern - You can unlock your phone by using a specific swipe pattern along a series of dots.
  • PIN - Choose an uncrackable Personal Identification Number.
  • Password - Creating a password specific to the lock screen is an option, but it's the most inconvenient option available.

3. Use phone locating apps

Losing your phone or having it stolen is scary. There's so much personal data stored in it you don't want it getting into the wrong hands. If this unfortunate situation happens to you, there are apps that will help you track down your gadget.

Apple

Find My iPhone: This is a free app you can download from the App Store. If you lose your phone, you can log into your Apple ID account from another device and see a map of where it is. Getting the phone back is great, but the real saving grace is being able to wipe the phone clean; this app allows you to erase all your phone's content and settings.

Android

Android Device Manager: This is a free app you can download from the Google Play store. If you lose your phone, you can log in to your Google account from another device and see a map of where it is. This app also allows you to wipe the phone clean, erase all your phone data and reset your lock screen passcode.

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