Is Your Smartphone Really Secure? [10 Ways to Improve It]

Keelan Balderson
Keelan Balderson

Updated · Jan 26, 2023

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Did you know that around 24,000 mobile apps are blocked on the internet every day? With that information in mind, it’s only natural to wonder if you should trust your phone with your most valuable data.

Is your smartphone really secure? We explore the topic below.

Is Your Smartphone Really Secure?

With more than 90% of internet users accessing the Web through a mobile device, it is clear that smartphones are increasingly replacing desktop computers as the preferred device for most people.

But that popularity also means that hackers and online criminals are shifting their attention to smartphones, attempting to infect them with malware and steal vital data.

Despite that, many smartphone users don’t take the necessary steps to secure their devices, often thinking that their phone’s built-in security is enough to keep them safe. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth as cyber security is an ever expanding subject.

Your smartphone’s built-in security can’t always prevent unauthorized access, especially if you fail to take the appropriate security measures, such as regularly updating your system and properly locking your phone.

How to Improve Your Smartphone Security?

Below, we explain all the steps you can take to increase your smartphone’s security.

1. Don’t Give Out Personal Information

Never reply to a text message asking for your personal information without checking whether it is sent from a legitimate source. The same goes for tapping on links in suspicious text messages.

It is common for hackers to impersonate trusted organizations like financial institutions to lure people into sharing personal information, such as their bank details and Social Security Numbers. This is a type of phishing attack and is one of the most common types of fraud that happens through SMS.

2. Use an Antivirus Software

Using antivirus software is a tried and tested method for protecting your desktop computer from malware, but your smartphone can also benefit from it. Installing an antivirus on your smartphone can prevent malicious apps and other types of malware from infecting your device while also safeguarding your most valuable data.

That said, when choosing which antivirus to use, you should be careful of rogue antivirus software, a type of malware that imitates an antivirus program by displaying fake warnings of a virus found on your device.

Always use reputable antivirus software to avoid falling victim to this type of scam.

3. Password-Protect Your Phone

Your lock screen is your first line of defense from anyone trying to gain unauthorized access to your phone. Nowadays, smartphones come with a range of lock screen options you can secure your device with a facial ID, a Fingerprint, a PIN, or a unique pattern.

Just make sure not to use an obvious passcode, such as your date of birth or a predictable sequence of numbers, as that will make your phone much easier to access if it gets lost or stolen.

For an extra layer of protection, secure all the accounts on your phone with a strong password and enable two-factor authentication where it is available.

Most importantly, never use the same password on all your accounts. Using a password manager will allow you to create strong, hard-to-crack passwords and easily manage them across different accounts.

4. Download Apps From Reputable Sources Only

Jailbreaking your iOS device or rooting your Android phone the process of downloading any software other than the one approved by the developer can be very tempting, as it allows you to customize your device or upgrade it with new features.

However, the risks usually outweigh the benefits.

Downloading an app from a third-party app store can infect your device with malicious software and give hackers access to valuable data, such as your contacts, login credentials, and financial information.

For maximum security, only download software from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Even then, always check an app’s ratings and privacy policy before downloading it to see what information it will have access to when installed on your phone.

5. Manage App Permissions

When it comes to smartphones and security, managing app permissions is an often overlooked aspect. Apps frequently ask permission to access your phone’s contacts, location, camera, or photo library, even if this data is not needed for the app to function properly.

Most of us grant these permissions without thinking twice, giving different apps access to sensitive personal information, which can pose a major security risk if that data is misused or sold to third parties.

Luckily, managing app permissions on your smartphone is very simple.

On Android:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Privacy.
  3. Tap Permission manager.
  4. Select the app or function you want to limit access to (Camera, Contacts, Location Call logs).
  5. Tap on the apps you want to change the permission settings of and select Don’t Allow.

On iPhone:

  1. Open your iPhone’s Settings.
  2. Tap on Privacy.
  3. Select the app or function that you want to deny access to (Contacts, Calendars, Reminders).
  4. Toggle app permission on or off.

6. Backup Your Phone

Backing up your phone’s data will come in handy in the worst-case scenario your phone gets lost, stolen, or damaged.

A cloud storage service, like iCloud or Google Drive, will keep your most valuable data, such as photos, videos, documents, and contacts, safely stored in the cloud, and you will be able to recover them from any other device.

Once you’ve backed up your phone, you can also enable remote wiping, so if it gets lost or stolen, you can wipe out all personal information remotely without worrying about losing access to it.

You might be interested in our review of PhoneRescue, a data recovery software for iOS and Android.

7. Regularly Update Your System and Apps

Regularly updating your system is one of the most effective methods for protecting your phone from hackers.

You may find those constant update notifications on your smartphone annoying, but regular updates will significantly reduce the chances of your phone getting hacked. Hackers often rely on software vulnerabilities in a mobile operating system, especially on Android devices, so make sure to install new software updates whenever one is available.

The same goes for the apps you have installed on your phone. Many of us are guilty of downloading an app only to use it once and never open it again. So, make sure to swipe through your phone’s screen and delete any apps you are no longer using and any accounts associated with them.

Note that if your phone is more than two years old, you may stop receiving security updates. In that case, you should consider replacing your phone with a new one.

8. Turn Off Your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth After Use

Always turn off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you don’t need them, especially in public spaces. This will not only save your battery life but also help keep your phone more secure.

When you have Bluetooth on, your phone is discoverable by nearby devices, which is a potential cybersecurity risk. Hackers often use specialized software to intercept your Bluetooth signal and hack into your phone.

9. Log Out of Websites After Making a Payment

If you tend to pay your bills online or shop through your smartphone, don’t forget to log out of these sites after completing your transaction. This will prevent anyone from accessing your online banking account and stealing your login credentials. For the same reason, avoid saving your username and password on different websites and apps.

You should also avoid transactions while connected to public Wi-Fi. If you must, always use a VPN to encrypt your connection.

10. Ignore Phishing Messages

Never tap on any link your receive through text or email, especially if you don’t know who the sender is. Even if you do know the sender, always double-check if they really sent it before opening the link.

It is common for cybercriminals to send false emails and text messages containing malicious URLs and fake websites in an attempt to extract sensitive information. This is known as phishing and is a common and dangerous cyber threat.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, your smartphone is as secure as you make it. While there are many security risks associated with smartphones, using some of the tips we’ve mentioned, such as regularly updating your system, password-protecting your phone, and managing app permissions, will greatly reduce the chances of your smartphone being hacked into.

FAQs.


How secure is Android?

Android OS has robust built-in security, with features such as app sandbox, app signing, biometric authentication, encryption, and automatic security updates. However, compared to iOS, Android devices are targeted more by hackers mainly because the operating system functions on open-source code, which is not the case with iOS.

Which smartphone has the strongest security?

Some of the most secure smartphones you can currently buy include the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the Blackphone PRIVY 2.0, the Purism Librem 5, and the Google Pixel 6.

Do mobile phones have built-in security?

Yes, all mobile phones have some form of built-in security, such as app permission requests, regular software updates, biometric authentication, and built-in encryption. However, taking extra security measures is advisable, as your phone’s built-in security can’t always protect you from unauthorized access.

How secure is my phone?

Is your smartphone really secure? That depends on how you use it and whether you take any security measures, such as regularly updating your system, password-protecting your phone, and downloading only official software.

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Keelan Balderson

Keelan Balderson

A qualified journalist and longtime web content writer, Keelan has a passion for exploring information and learning new things. If he's not writing or pushing his own brands, you'll find him watching pro wrestling or trying not to rant about politics online.

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