We rely on our smartphones so heavily that any enforced absence seems almost frightening.
Yet many of us take liberties with smartphone safety.
If they’re not rolling around in handbags, they’re being left on the beach or dropped onto hard surfaces.
Smartphone safety and security shouldn’t be an afterthought, since this quickly becomes something you subsequently regret.
These are our tips for keeping your phone safe and secure – including several obvious suggestions many of us are guilty of overlooking…
- Fit a case. If you hate the air bubbles created by many screen protectors, at least fit a shockproof case which rises slightly above the screen to cushion any drops or bumps.
- Keep the screen away from sharp objects. Never put a phone in the same pocket as car keys, loose change or anything abrasive. Ideally, carry it in a dedicated pocket or pouch.
- Take care on hard floors. Dropping an iPhone onto carpet shouldn’t break it, but tiles can crack the screen. Keep a firm grip on the phone in a dry hand, and don’t wave it around.
- Be gentle with cables. It’s easy to try and insert a USB-C lead the wrong way, scraping the socket. Avoid tugging on leads or cables, which might damage internal components.
- Always engage flight mode on planes. It’s easy to forget (especially on shorter domestic flights), but fellow passengers deserve the consideration of flight mode being enabled.
- Turn off geotagging. This identifies exactly when and where a photo was taken. Potential beneficiaries might include stalkers, burglars, identity fraudsters and paparazzi.
- Read the instructions carefully. These explain how to disable unnecessary functions that might over-work the processor, leading to overheating, screen burn or premature wear.
- Under no circumstances use your phone on the toilet. We’ve all done it, and we all know someone whose handset slipped from their grasp at a critical moment. It’s not worth it.
- Never leave a handset on public view. An opportunist thief might grab a mobile off a table and be halfway down the street before the victim has time to react.
- Turn off communication protocols like Bluetooth when they’re not needed. These provide hackers with possible backdoors into your device, while draining the battery.
- Set a PIN code or biometric unlock mechanism to engage when the handset goes to sleep. Otherwise, anyone could pick it up and run amok through personal data and apps.
- Avoid jailbreaking. Also known as rooting, this provides access to non-approved apps. It risks viruses, automatically invalidates warranties and threatens a device’s stability.
- Don’t access sensitive sites on insecure WiFi networks. Customer WiFi in cafés or hotels is easily monitored, so don’t access online banking or share confidential data.
- If you must use public WiFi, install a VPN. VPNs are free and available through app stores. They create an encrypted tunnel, to stop web traffic being spied on or intercepted.
- Permit operating system or app updates. Even if they’re scheduled for 3am, always let software updates proceed; they respond to newly-discovered threats and vulnerabilities.
- Check security permissions. Most apps require access to certain phone functions. Don’t always trust the developer – be vigilant, and disable apps needing too many privileges.
- Approach unsolicited email attachments cautiously. Hackers are increasingly targeting the Android and iOS platforms, so be wary of opening emailed files from strangers.
- Enable remote wiping. If a phone is stolen or mislaid, remotely disabling it and deleting its contents could prevent identity fraud or the leaking of confidential data.