Talking tech since 2003

It’s common knowledge that safeguarding your smartphone against cyber thieves is necessary in today’s highly technical and mobile world. In a matter of seconds, your device can be hacked and all of your personal information stolen including banking and credit card information. Even if you’ve taken some steps to safeguard your phone against potential threats, it’s always good to explore new and improved ways stay one step ahead of the bad guys. Here are a few ways to do this.

Security Apps

Whether you have an Android or Apple device, consider checking any of these security apps designed to protect you and your smartphone from viruses or other cyber-attacks:

  • LastPass: This award-winning password management app that not only saves your passwords but also allows you secure access to them from any of your devices or computers. You only need to remember one password. LastPass fills in your logins and can safely sync your passwords when needed.
  • Number: Fight back against intrusive calls with this free app that blocks calls and SMS messages from specific individuals, whole area codes or just certain code prefixes. It also comes with an easy spam-reporting system.
  • Mobile Security & Antivirus: This free security app alerts you when your device goes missing and shields all your personal information online. The anti-theft is activated by SMS commands and includes a remote wipe and remote siren. A premium version is also available. Another great tool for security on Android-based devices is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Mobile.

Kill Switch Technology

If your smartphone or other device is lost or stolen, kill switches allow users to deactivate it making it worthless to whoever tries to use it. This technology has been linked to the decrease in smartphone thefts worldwide. Lawmakers passed a law that beginning July 2015, all phones in California be sold with a kill switch enabled by default.

Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have kill switch software enabled on their phones that can remotely lock and wipe data if the device is lost or stolen. Last year’s iOS 8 software update included the kill switch technology for older models of iPhones.

For Android phones, last year’s Android 5.0 Lollipop release offered the kill switch technology. However for newer phones, chip maker QualComm has created a new SafeSwitch mechanism built right into its Snapdragon 810 processors. This technology is engineered to resist chip replacement and protect firmware. SafeSwitch allows users to set password remotely, erase and recover data, and locate a stolen or lost device. The technology is engaged during the device’s early boot stage to detect hacking attempts or malicious software installation.

Encrypting Your Devices Data

Another way to protect your personal information on your device is to encrypt it. Encryption does more than just lock a person out of your phone or tablet, like a lock screen does. It makes the information unreadable and pretty much useless to everyone except the user.

While this added measure of security offers users extra protection, there is a downside, especially for Android users, who may take a bit longer to log into their encrypted devices. Most modern Android and Apple devices encrypt their contents by default. This is particularly useful if your phone contains sensitive data or other work-related information, which is more common these days as companies employ BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies.

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