Your smartphone is no different from any other general purpose computer. This means that people with malicious intent can use them to steal your information or make other profits at your expense.
Whether it’s spying, stealing your money, or routine stalking, an unsafe smartphone can be a recipe for unfortunately. Here’s how to prevent hackers from getting access to your phone. Update your phone (and apps!)
When your phone notifies you of an important update – install it! These days, small security updates are often rolled out to both iOS and Android phones. Usually, these are patches that fix newly discovered vulnerabilities. The patch release also indicates the existence of the exploit to the world, so expect many hackers to try their luck in hopes of finding phones in the wild that don’t have patches installed.
Although this is not important, you should update your apps as well. Especially if security issues are mentioned in the description of the update. Poorly written apps can open the door to your phone sometimes, depending on the type of exploit. This is very rare, but not so far fetched that you have to delay app updates indefinitely. Do not download unpublished apps or use dodgy app stores
The Google Play Store and the Apple App Store have quality control measures to help prevent harmful apps from getting on your phone. It still can happen, but overall, you don’t need to worry about the apps on these official storefronts.
The real problems arise from manually installing apps (downloading unpublished apps) on your device from sources that you cannot trust. Pirated apps are one of the prime examples. Often these apps contain malicious code. If you use it, you can simply pass your phone and password to the hacker.
Unpublished download is not bad in itself. There are several trusted apps that you can install in this way. However, you must be 100% sure of their origin. Apple devices cannot download unpublished apps or use alternative app stores without “jailbreaking” the device. You can read more about the risks in our article on the alternative Cydia app store. Use a secure screen lock
All smartphones allow you to install a security lock. So if someone picks up the phone, they will not be able to log into your apps or start browsing your information. This type of lock is an important way to keep your Android phone safe from hackers, but the most important thing is to choose the type of lock that provides the required level of security.
The traditional PIN is very secure. We recommend using at least a 6-digit code, but even the 4-digit code is completely reliable. With six numbers there are a million possible combinations, with four – ten thousand. Since most phones allow limited guesses before the device locks or wipes itself, that’s more than enough.
It may be tempting to use biometric locks such as fingerprints or facial recognition. However, think about this carefully, because in many cases, facial recognition can still be deceived. Not to mention, someone can unlock your phone by pointing it at you or having you put your finger on a scanner. Pattern locks can also be problematic, especially if you leave the image blurry on the screen! Use the biometric key
If you decide to use biometric locks on your smart device, learn how to quickly disable them. You can learn how to do this on iOS in our article Face ID and Touch ID. On newer iOS devices, you hold down the power button and one of the volume buttons to turn off biometrics. If you have anything from iPhone 5s to iPhone 7, you can turn off biometrics by pressing the power button five times.
Check out Killswitch on your iOS device before actually using it. If you activate Hey Siri, you can also turn off biometrics by simply saying “Hey Siri, from this phone?” All of these methods only work until the next time you lock your device again.
On Android Pie and later, open your phone settings and search for something called “lock screen settings” or “secure screen lock settings.” The exact listing may differ depending on the brand of your phone. There should be an option to “Show Blocking Options”.
If you enable this, pressing the Power button on the lock screen will bring up the Lock Mode button. If you choose to do so, biometrics will stop working immediately and you will need a password to unlock your phone. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks
Public Wi-Fi is the ideal place to search for hackers who are looking to easily make money. why? Because when you are on Wi-Fi with other users that you don’t know, your devices can see each other’s network traffic.
This means that any unencrypted data that your phone sends can be read by other users with the WiFi password. This also means that your phone can be directly attacked by its local network address. If a public Wi-Fi provider misdiagnoses its network security, it could leave your device vulnerable.
The best way to prevent hackers from accessing your phone is to avoid these networks completely. Use a VPN
If you need to use a public Wi-Fi network, then you need to use a VPN app to encrypt all data that goes through the network connection. We recommend that you only use trusted paid services. It will cost a few dollars a month, but it’s well worth it. Use non-data cables for charging
The port your phone uses for charging is also used to transfer data. We know this might not be news for you, but do you think this data connection can be used to jailbreak your phone?
The USB port can be used to install malware on a smartphone. This is why malicious hackers are replacing harmless chargers in places like airport lounges or cafes with hacked ones. After you have connected your phone for charging, the device will download malware to your phone.
If you must use a general charging point, buy only a small charging cable. These cables lack data wires, so even a broken charger can’t do anything to your phone. Total security does not exist
No matter how many countermeasures you take against hackers, there will be no reliable protection. So make sure to take additional steps, such as encrypting the most sensitive information, not storing things like password lists on your phone, and practicing good cybersecurity habits in general.
It’s also worth considering that most hackers don’t actually target the technology itself. Instead, they tend to target people using this technology. This is called “social engineering” and hacker attacks like phishing are typical examples of this.
No security app will protect you if you get tricked in the moment of inattention! So, the best advice we can give you to prevent hackers from gaining access to your phone is to cultivate a security mindset! This allows you to adapt to new threats as they arise and increases the likelihood that you will not be the next victim of a hack.