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Keep Your Cell Phone Secure

You’re heading out for the night. Whether you’re at a restaurant, theater, or just spending time with family or friends, your phone is your lifeline through it all. You might use it to check your bank balances, or to pay for something with a tap on your screen. But how secure is your mobile phone?

Just like your home computer, your phone is susceptible to a cyber-attack and needs protection. “Mobile malware has been on the rise drastically in last couple of years,” says Nathan Collier, Senior Malware Intelligence Analyst at Malwarebytes. Says Collier, “With millions of malware samples in the wild, there is no reason not to be concerned.”

Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.
Be proactive and help make sure your device is not vulnerable to viruses and malware designed to capture your personal and financial information. Use this checklist to protect your phone.

  • Lock your phone with a passcode or other strong authentication, such as fingerprint recognition. Lose your phone? Leave it in your Uber? Without a passcode, it’s really easy for anyone who has access to your phone to get your information. Use a strong code, something stronger than the default 4-digit unlock code. Include a timeout that requires you to re-enter your passcode after a brief period of inactivity. Make sure if your phone is lost or stolen that you follow the recommended steps of your mobile service provider.
  • Update your operating system regularly. With so many mobile devices running older versions of Android or Apple’s iOS, it makes them vulnerable to malware. So when that pop-up reminder to update appears, don’t ignore it. Charge your phone, clear out some space, and install the update right away.
  • Delete unneeded apps and update existing apps regularly. If apps on your device are out of date, hackers can make the use of their outdated design and steal your personal information. It’s a good security practice to delete all apps you no longer use. Only download and install apps from trusted sources. Make sure you read the app’s privacy statement, permissions and reviews. Configure app permissions immediately after downloading.Tower’s App gives you quick and easy access to your Tower accounts anytime, anywhere. It allows for fingerprint-ID on Android devices or Touch ID™ on Apple devices. Login with Face ID on your iPhone X.
  • Set up the “find my phone” feature. This will allow you to find, remotely wipe data and/or disable the device if it gets into the wrong.
  • Make sure to back up your data on a regular basis in case something goes wrong. There are various methods to choose, including using a cloud service, via a wired computer (manual) connection or through software such as iTunes. Consider encrypting your data for better security. By taking preventative measures, you can save yourself from headaches later on.
  • Don’t jailbreak or root your phone. On iPhones, jailbreaking allows you to install third-party software from outside the app store; and to use themes and extensions that Apple doesn’t support. On Android phones, rooting opens up access to administrative permissions. Jailbreaking, rooting, and unlocking are all ways of bypassing the security functions that are built-in to the phone by the manufacturer.
  • Wipe your phone properly before turning it in. Don’t rely on carriers, recycling firms or phone deposit banks to “clean” your phone before disposal or resale to third parties. Follow your phone manufacturer’s instructions to remove all personal information from your phone before decommissioning it.
  • Get wise about Wi-Fi. Using public Wi-Fi at the airport or hotel is very convenient, but wireless networks and hotspots are not secure. This means that anyone using the same Wi-Fi network could potentially see what you are doing on your smartphone while you are connected. What should you do? Disable services such as AirDrop and File Sharing when not in use. Limit what you do on public Wi-Fi and avoid logging in to accounts that have sensitive information such as banking and e-mail.

As always, you’ll want to monitor your accounts for suspicious activity. If you notice anything that concerns you, contact Tower immediately.

Resources: CBS News, MalwareBytes, The Federal Communications Commission, TurboFuture.com, Backblaze, NCSAM