How to Protect Yourself from Phone Scams

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We often don’t realize that our mobile phones have become increasingly important for us. They carry our contacts, passwords, financial information and are the gateway to some of our financially sensitive spots. But somehow, we don’t consider our mobile phones at par with our computers. Many mobile users are not serious about the safety of their cell phones and they don’t even bother to install an antivirus in their mobile phones.

Here are some very basic yet very important steps that we all can and should follow if we want to keep our phone and data safe from cheaters on the prowl.

  • 1. Do not store passwords on your browser: Google chrome and other browsers come very handy when it comes to remembering our passwords. In today’s world, everyone has to remember too many passwords which are a tough task in itself. Using the ‘save password’ feature of the browser comes very handy here. Another beautiful feature of it is if we login with our email id on any android device, the cookies, saved passwords, contacts, search history, everything gets copied to the other device as well. While this is a very good feature of Chrome, yet this is a dangerous feature if your phone is stolen or cloned. Not only this, even if someone gains access to your email id login details, you can end up losing all the stored data on your phone. This is a scary scenario where an unknown person at an unknown place has access to your contacts, passwords and other sensitive data stored on your phone.
  • 2. Access Control and Biometrics: You can place various types of access controls in your phone, like a simple password, a pin number, voice recognition or other advanced biometric access control systems. This acts as a formidable wall of security and prevents any unwanted access to your phone. There are many mobile apps available these days that can help you set up biometric access to your phone. Many cell phones as well come with inbuilt biometrics and other advanced access control systems these days.
  • 3. On device encryption: to prevent loss or theft of data: It is possible these days to encrypt the data stored over your cell phone. Encrypted data is actually data stored in a digital maze. It becomes difficult for criminals to decrypt the data in your phone even if they gain access to it and the information stored becomes useless for them.
  • 4. Device Backup: Always keep backup of your data at a regular interval. I suggest you to store your backup on an external storage device that is not linked to the internet. Also remove the data that you have already backed up from your mobile device. This leaves you with no sensitive data to lose in case of any mis-happening.
  • 5. Remote ‘Find and Wipe’ Tools: There are advanced ‘Find and Wipe’ tools available in the market today. These tools come in handy in case of phone theft. You can use this tool to find your lost phone and wipe it clean. These tools are able to track the location of the phone and are able to delete all files stored in its memory. This makes the phone nothing but an empty box and your data is long gone before it can be retrieved by the criminal.
  • 6. Don’t download from untrustworthy sources: Never click on popup ads or links sent from unsolicited emails or text messages. They can be a phishing attempt by hackers to gain access to your data.
  • 7. Don’t jailbreak mobile devices: As discussed in the earlier paragraphs, both android and apple devices have a security check up in place. All apps are required to pass their security test to gain access to their app stores respectively. Due to this security feature, some apps are not listed in android and apple app store. But some people are able to modify their phones so that the security feature is no longer available on their phone and they are able to access those apps. This is called ‘Jailbreak’. This is a dangerous risk because with the removal of the security checks, your phone becomes much more vulnerable to threats and malicious apps.
  • 8. Change passwords: It is an important security measure to keep changing your passwords at regular intervals. Also avoid repeating or shuffling passwords in order to minimize the risk of a password breach.
  • 9. Beware of any suspicious email or push notification to your device: Take extra precaution when you suddenly start receiving unsolicited emails or calls. Get your phone checked for virus, take backup of your important data and clear stored passwords and browsing history.
  • 10. Stay Aware and Updated: Don’t be ignorant towards your safety. Always be aware of the current trend in the mobile security industry and keep your cell phone secure with the most updated level of anti-virus.
  • 11. Phone’s Security features: While buying a new phone always take into consideration the in-built security features of the phone. Better security features keeps you safe in the long run.
  • 12. Configure the device settings for more security: Play around with your phone’s security settings and adjust them to provide maximum security to your phone data.
  • 13. HTTPS/SSL certification: Only open websites with a valid security certification. Easiest way to determine that is to open only those web addresses on your phone that are preceded by HPPTS and not HTTP. The extra ‘S’ stands for ‘Secure’ gesturing that the web link is secure.
  • 14. Don’t click on unsolicited and suspicious links. Don’t respond to spam calls.
  • 15. Be cautious before submitting your contact information or email id on any website. If you are not sure about the authenticity of the website, do not share any personal information over it.
  • 16. Be selective as to what you want to keep saved in your cell phone. Avoid saving sensitive information over your phone. Take regular back ups and keep you backup devices offline.
  • 17. Install only legitimate apps. Do go through the ratings and user reviews before installing any application.
  • 18. Keep your phone to yourself. If you are giving your phone to someone, only give it to people whom you trust. Do not share your phone or passwords with everyone.
  • 19. If you are using a Bluetooth enabled device either keep your Bluetooth off, when you are not using it or keep the device in ‘undiscoverable’ status.
  • 20. Avoid joining unknown wi-fi networks and public wifi hotspots as they can prove to be a source of dangerous malware entering your phone.
  • 21. Be careful while using social media applications. Also exercise caution while providing app permission to access different areas of your phone. A permission provided to a not so trusted application can put your phone at risk.
  • 22. Do not root or jailbreak your device as this will be an open invitation from you to the hackers.