Five Ways to Protect Your Privacy on Your Smartphone, No Download Required


You can download apps to check your privacy, but who can say that those apps themselves don’t pose a security risk? Here are five tips for maintaining your privacy in an always-on world.

Privacy concerns once involved someone stealing your wallet or finding sensitive information in your trash. Today almost everyone carries their digital identity in their pocket, and it is ripe for exploitation by hackers and criminals.

Maintaining your privacy in the digital age can be difficult, especially on your mobile device. If you want to stay safe and keep your identity intact, there are a few basic things you can do to audit your security without downloading a single app.

1. Use a password or fingerprint

The smartest – and easiest – way to make sure your smartphone is secure is to always have a password or fingerprint unlock enabled. There are always ways around this type of basic security, but it adds an essential layer of security that will stop most people.

2. Audit app permissions

Even legitimate apps can request unnecessary permissions that compromise security. Don’t ignore the permissions requested by an app – most don’t need a lot, and if something looks fishy, ​​Google the app to make sure other people haven’t run into any issues.

SEE: Keep the backdoors of free smartphones, urges Susan Landau, cybersecurity expert (TechRepublic)

You can also view the permissions of apps installed on Android by opening Settings, tapping on Privacy, and then tapping on App permissions. It breaks down permissions by category and lets you check which apps have access to which part of your phone.

iOS works the same: open Settings, tap Privacy, and choose the particular part of your device that you want to check. Apps that have requested particular permissions will appear in certain categories, allowing you to enable and disable their access.

3. Make sure the “Find My Phone” services are activated

Android and iOS both offer device location services, provided you have installed the appropriate apps, configured them, and allowed the software to run. In the event of theft, these services allow you to remotely lock, erase and deactivate your device to prevent theft of private information.

SEE: The Dark Side of Wearable Devices: How They Secretly Endanger Your Security and Privacy (TechRepublic)

Losing your phone is horrible, but losing your identity is much worse.

4. Don’t ignore updates

A device with an outdated operating system is ripe for compromise. Keeping your smartphone up to date is just as important as keeping your PC up to date. Many small updates to iOS and Android fill in security holes. If your device is not running the most recent version, you could fall prey to hacks that would have been easy to avoid.

5. Activate Do Not Track in your web browser

Safari and Chrome both have options to tell websites not to follow you, which is how they collect advertising data and other personally identifying information. Enabling this option in both browsers eliminates additional personal information leakage. Many websites may not use this data maliciously, but prevention is always better than cure.

In Chrome, open browser settings, tap Privacy, and toggle sending usage data to Never. To turn off tracking in Safari, open the Settings app, scroll to Privacy & Security, and turn Do Not Track.

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Sam D. Gomez