Twelve tricks to improve smartphone security

As we've come to understand over the past few months, none of us are really safe from a hacking attack. Anyone can be hit, either by hackers without a specific target, or by cyber criminals linked to secret services or "sponsored" by some state. The defense weapons available to users are not very many, but improving the security of the smartphone is possible.

Some tricks help in this operation. In most cases, these are basic, common-sense tips that can be implemented by anyone with minimal smartphone knowledge. These tips are independent of the operating system: it doesn't matter whether you're using an Android phone or an iPhone, the following tricks will increase your smartphone's protection and let you surf online or update your Facebook profile with a few less worries. Of course, they don't protect you from any cyber spying, but they are a good starting point.

Update operating system and apps to the latest version

The first step, and it applies to both smartphones and computers, is to constantly update your software. As soon as operating system updates are available, let's waste no time and install them. It is true that every now and then these updates bring substantial changes and often the graphical interface needs a period of acclimatization, not always positive, for the user. But updating our device means blocking many vulnerabilities and making ourselves safe from Android malware infections and iOS viruses. Also, let's avoid being developers if we're not: let's use only official tools and avoid systems like Jailbreak on iOS if we don't know how to use them.

Watch out for apps

Apps are increasingly an easy target for cyber criminals. Therefore, to avoid running into any Android or iOS malware, we should always pay close attention to what we install on our device. Especially if we own an Android smartphone, we should know that there are several malicious apps on the Google Play Store that can infect our phones, steal our personal data and take possession of our devices. Google, of course, doesn't sit idly by and has been working steadily for the past few months to remove these apps.

Check regularly

Many apps require access to various tools in order to work, from the microphone, through the camera to geolocation. In some cases this information is very confidential. So let's avoid granting these permissions lightly. Also, pay attention to app updates: it is possible that a virus is hiding in the update and not in the basic version of an app. On iPhone it is very easy to monitor the various permissions required by apps, just go to Settings and then Privacy. More complicated on Android where, however, we can use free services such as Avast or McAfee that alert us in case an application has taken possession of our location or contact list after an update. Also, these two tools allow us to be notified if we're trying to install a malicious app and act as a shield against phishing hacks. And they warn us if we are entering our data on a bogus site.

Security Pins

The device should also be protected from potential "manual" attacks by a hacker. The first rule is to avoid leaving your phone unattended in public places and even in the workplace. The second rule is to set an articulated unlock code or rely on biometrics. While sequences or PINs have become increasingly easy to decrypt, the use of fingerprints and facial recognition provides a good level of smartphone security and protection. We then avoid the features defined as "smart unlocking". That is, those that allow the smartphone to unlock if we are inside the house or inside the office or if we approach the smartwatch. These systems make smartphones vulnerable and make it easier for attackers.

Activate tracking systems to find stolen or lost smartphones

Prevention is better than cure, but sometimes you have to be ready for the worst. That's why we have to think about systems to secure our data in case our phone is stolen. We can set an automatic reset of all information after a number of failed attempts to unlock the device. For example, if the hacker tries more than three times to get in, without success, the phone will erase all the data inside. If we choose this option, of course, we make constant backups so that we don't lose everything too. A less drastic solution is provided by the services