Technology

How to secure your mobile phone from online scammers

hacker

PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Every day, scammers browse the Internet looking for an account to hack.

A Communications Authority of Kenya report released last year showed an increase of 268.883 percent in cyber threats activities.

You might go for scorched-earth on your online presence, but deleting every account you have to prevent being hacked is impractical in today’s connected world.

Remember that being online puts you and your data at risk, but there are ways you can minimise your risk and make a hacker’s job harder.

How to protect your phone from scammers

Always remember that mobile devices require additional effort to protect, including deactivating certain features when they’re not in use and installing security applications.

According to Max Freedman and Jackie Dove, you can secure your device in the following ways:

Turn off Bluetooth

Turn off your Bluetooth when not in use. Keeping your Bluetooth on but dormant opens another back door for computer hackers.

Avoid unsecured public Wi-Fi

Password-free, widely used Wi-Fi networks have no security features. As such, they’re prime targets for computer hackers.

Get a security app

Install a security app on your phone, just as you should install a firewall, antivirus software and an anti-spyware package on your computer. Popular options include Avast, Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus and Bitdefender.

Use a better passcode

Security passwords like 0000 and 1234 are easy to remember. However, they’re also easy to guess. Instead, opt for a randomly generated, six-number passcode.

Switch off autocomplete

Autocomplete is the feature that guesses what you’re typing and completes the word, phrase or other information. While convenient, this tool all but hands your email address, mailing address, phone number and other important information to hackers. Switch it off.

Clear browsing history

Your mobile web browser has a browsing history too. Clear it often — including cookies and cached files — to give hackers as little information as possible to work with if they break into your phone. Mobile devices require additional protection, including deactivating certain features when they’re not in use and installing security applications.

Ignore spam

Beware of email messages from unknown parties. Never click on links or open attachments that accompany them. Inbox spam filters are good at catching the most conspicuous spam messages.

However, sophisticated phishing emails that mimic your friends, associates and trusted businesses (like bank) have become common. Therefore, keep your eyes open for anything that looks or sounds suspicious.

Don’t access financial or personal data with public Wi-Fi

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people check their bank accounts or make purchases with a credit card while using insecure public Wi-Fi. It’s best to do those things on a secure connection.

Turn off what you don’t need

Hackers can use certain features on your phone to get at your information, location or connection. Instead of keeping your GPS, wireless connection and geo-tracking on all the time, just turn them on when you need them.

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