Just a few years ago smartphones were barely a blip on anyone’s radar. These days the devices are not only ubiquitous, but vital as well. That’s because, now more than ever, smartphones are capable of storing mass amounts of data. And forget music and video clips, many folks keep sensitive personal and financial info on these devices too. That automatically makes smartphones vulnerable, even more so while on the go.
Yes, more and more travelers are losing their smartphones or having them fall victim to theft. And if the security measures on the device are lax, who knows just how extensive the damage can be. Travelers may not just be losing a $500 iPhone or Android device, but irreplaceable photos and business documents as well. The good news is that there are basic safeguards all travelers can put in place to ensure their smartphone – and data therein – is protected.
How to Protect Your Smartphone While Traveling
It’s always a good idea to regularly update smartphone software – even more so for travelers. Those embarking on a trip should complete all updates within the handset as well as check online for any additional firmware websites. Doing so will secure the smartphone from the newer security vulnerabilities out there.
Not all passwords are created equal, and those who are about to travel would do well to remember this. Experts recommend forgoing common dictionary words in favor of acronyms or other bits of info known only to the user. These passwords should be a minimum of 8 characters and should be changed at least once every six months.
Trust out-of-the-box security settings
Modern smartphone manufacturers do a decent job with their stock security settings, but many users reset security settings when setting up their handset. Those who attempt to change browser security settings on their smartphone without fully understanding what they are doing run the risk of weakening the security features.
Avoid WiFi hotspots when possible
Often, travelers will fall victim to data theft while using their smartphones in an airport, hotel, bar or café. Many E-thieves will actually set up an open network and cast it like a net in a particular location. The unsuspecting traveler logs on and the next thing he or she knows their passwords and account information is in the wrong hands. But even password-protected hotspots can be risky, so travelers should always refrain from using them whenever possible.
Disable autofill and cookies
Having passwords appear automatically within a browser is certainly convenient, but it also presents a security risk. However, there’s no need to give up convenience completely, as smartphone owners can use third-party apps to regain some of their login freedom. Apple even comes with its own built-in password manager in the form of Keychain.
Do app homework
There are lost of apps out there – many that transmit private data – made by unscrupulous developers. Every smartphone owner should do a bit of diligence before downloading any new app, at the very least to see if customer reviews are positive ones.
By adhering to the above guidelines, travelers can rest easy in the knowledge their smartphone is as secure as can be. And in the tragic event of loss or theft, these same travelers can be sure their vital data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Ivy Harriss writes for Visit West Hollywood, the official guide to West Hollywood travel, news, events and visitor tips.