Avoid Smartphone Security Risks: 5 Ways to Keep Your Identity Safe
I consider myself a pretty friendly person. So, a new neighbor moved in next door. We meet outside one day, she seemed nice enough, but the next thing I know she’s knocking on my door asking to see my fridge. I thought this was odd, but she explained that she was in the process of ordering one and wanted to see the model I had…ok.
We chatted for a little while, she shared that her Internet wasn’t set up yet and that her daughter was getting stir-crazy. The next day, we had a snowstorm which delayed the cable company from coming out to install her WiFi. Being the good Samaritan that I am, I agreed to let my new neighbor have my WiFi password to use for ONE WEEK until she could reschedule.
A week and half goes by, the snow has cleared and I saw a cable truck outside. I figured she should be good to go, so I login to update my WiFi password. However, when I tried to enter my WiFi password to update the account I was DENIED ACCESS.
I attempted to update my password about 15 times before I figured out what happened. My new neighbor changed my WiFi password!
The cable company that provides my Internet service uses one of three generic “first entry” passwords to access the account where you can do things like update your password. The three passwords they use are published in their help pages (which is how I found access, just like my neighbor did)! Once in, you’re asked for your personal WiFi password. Since I naively gave mine out, my neighbor logged in and changed my password before I could.
Who knew my new neighbor was a criminal? I guess she thought paying for Internet service was just too much to handle. After an hour on the phone with the cable company, I was finally able to change my password and WiFi name.
I learned a valuable lesson this day. Don’t talk to strangers! Ok, I really learned that I’m not as protective of my private information as I thought.
In this age where so much information is at our fingertips, we have to be cautious and protect our personal information more than ever.
We can rule our world from our smartphones, and a lot of us do. Almost every company today has an app and social media accounts. We can pay our bills, order gifts, turn on our lights, and open our garages, all from our phones. As cool and convenient as this is, if we’re not careful we can put ourselves in jeopardy of Identity Theft.
So, we’ve compiled a list of tips to keep yourself protected while enjoying all the features and conveniences of your smartphone.
1. Password Protect Your Phone
As attached at the hip as we are to our devices, we are always misplacing them! I hear “Where’s my phone?” at least three times a day from various people talking aloud to themselves. Most people find it in their other hand, however, if you really lose your phone, you should take precautions to protect your personal info. Setting a screen lock pattern or pin is a quick and easy way to keep strangers out.
2. Public WiFi SafetyWe all love WiFi, it just comes naturally being a member of Republic Wireless. Finding free public WiFi is like finding cash in my pockets (it’s the little things). Public WiFi is great for surfing the net and making WiFi calls, but be cautious when sharing personal information over public WiFi. Be sure to verify you’re on the right network when out at coffee shops. If this isn’t a place you frequent, select “Forget Network” when you leave.
3. Texting SafetyIt’s tempting to shoot personal information over to family and friends through text message because it’s easy. But think twice before you send account numbers or login information. When you receive a text from an unknown number that appears to be attached to one of your accounts, don’t reply. Look up the number and call in to verify the information.
4. App AccessBefore installing new apps, read through the privacy policies. Find out what information the app shares and what access the app has to your phone. Some apps may steal your personal information or have dangerous viruses. Having security software on your phone can protect you from these malicious apps.
5. Before You Dispose of Your Phone
When you get the new hottest phone, don’t just toss your old phone out. Before you recycle your device, first backup your data. Also, don’t forget to factory reset and encrypt your old phone to protect your information. Turn the phone on to be sure the phone has been updated and wiped.
Bonus tip: Using security apps can give extra protection from viruses and when making a purchase from your phone.