How to effectively protect your data on your smartphone – Photo: © SasinParaksa #283536684 | stock.adobe.com
Without smartphones, our everyday life today is unimaginable. Whether in leisure time, during work or in search of helpful information: Digital companions are part of our age.
However, since smartphones are always a target for criminal acts, effective protection of the devices is essential.
Efficient protection with antivirus software
Just like a computer, a smartphone should also be effectively protected with antivirus software. Dealing with a high level of security is often underestimated with cell phones. But just like a computer, the small devices are equipped with a hard drive, RAM, a processor or a connection to the Internet.
Digital security suffers – even though there is often even more sensitive data on smartphones than on computers.
Antivirus programs at Avira and other providers are a good decision. These programs are helpful in effectively protecting sensitive information such as contact information, location information, or online banking credentials. In the absence of data security, it is often easy for spy apps to read out the relevant information and pass it on to third parties.
Just like a computer, a smartphone should also be effectively protected with antivirus software – Photo: © Daniel Krason #131335400 | stock.adobe.com
Firewalls for Android smartphones
An advantage of antivirus apps are integrated virus scanners, which scan applications and files with the smartphone and thus check for malware. Virus scanners are considered an important part of the basic equipment and are therefore an integral part of antivirus software. A good solution is also a paid antivirus program with included real-time protection. This feature detects viruses in real time and takes immediate countermeasures.
Firewalls are another important security feature. These programs control network activities of all applications and can prevent any connections if necessary. Firewalls thus help to constantly check the data flow of smartphones.
However, manual input is required to activate a firewall, otherwise the tool may block all existing applications. Firewalls are primarily suitable for Android cell phones.
Firewalls are another important security feature – Photo: © Yaran #325621426 | stock.adobe.com
Security in the public WLAN
Nowadays, public WLAN networks are ideal for conserving the data volume included in the tariff. However, this makes users of public WLAN networks more susceptible to cybercriminals spying on their own data traffic. For this reason, it is not recommended to perform online banking operations on public networks.
It is also not advisable to use data connections that are not protected by an HTTPS certificate.
For general security, a virtual private network is particularly suitable. These so-called VPNs forward connections to the network directly via their own VPN servers. By changing the IP address, the systems increase the anonymity of smartphone users in the international data network. In addition, VPN is suitable for encrypting transmitted data.
Carry out regular security updates
Manufacturers of iPhones and Android devices make security updates at irregular intervals. These updates not only close various security gaps, but also improve virus protection at the same time. Differences exist in terms of manufacturers as well as chosen operating systems. Apple predominantly provides iPhones with security updates. Android does release so-called security patches on a monthly basis.
However, these tools have to be adapted by the manufacturers to the user interfaces of the respective models.
Other offers are available from established manufacturers like Samsung or Xiaomi, who usually discontinue their Google security settings after two to three years. This is why performing security updates is easier for iPhone users.
Carrying out regular security updates – Photo: © sakkmesterke #245325018 | stock.adobe.com
Hands off applications from unknown sources
Android users in particular should be careful not to install apps from unknown sources. Otherwise, there is a high risk that so-called application APKs will be downloaded from the Internet and then manually installed on the smartphone. However, this system bypasses the control of the Google Play Store.
Thus, users benefit from the ability to personalize smartphones as needed – especially if developers of websites and apps are trustworthy.
Otherwise, the risk is high that the phone will not only be protected, but malware will be installed automatically. Those who are not 100 percent sure about the data security of the software to be installed should decide against an installation if in doubt. And even if an app seems trustworthy, it is advisable to deactivate the settings again after installation. This deactivation is done separately for each browser.
Control of app permissions
Regardless of viruses, many user data can also be leaked to third parties in other ways – via dubious apps that can also be accessed in the App Store or Play Store. An important indicator for these apps is that the applications often demand more permissions than necessary for functionality. An overview of the corresponding permissions is provided by smartphone settings under iOS for Apple or Google for Android.
For example, you should be suspicious if tools like calculator apps try to access your location or contact list.
Good to know: Well-known browsers like Edge from Microsoft or Chrome from Google are not necessarily the best choice for privacy issues. For efficient protection of one’s own privacy, offers such as "Tor" or "DuckDuckGo" are much better suited.
Control of app permissions
SIM card lock and screen lock
Even far from the digital world, one’s cell phone should be protected from physical attacks by third parties. A relatively simple measure is a screen lock. This lock is most likely the most important protective element. A lock via PIN code is considered even more secure.
Those who opt for pattern unlocking with this technology should make sure to disable the visibility of lines when drawing patterns.
This reduces the risk of strangers secretly gaining access to the smartphone.
Modern devices can even be unlocked using biometric data. Their safety measures include not only facial recognition, an iris scanner or a finder’s impression sensor, but also the use of a mobile phone. Additional security is provided by accessing commercially available passwords or PIN codes. A protected SIM card further increases access to a smartphone. This SIM card does not even reveal data when inserted into another cell phone.
Search for stolen or lost phones
All these measures fail to serve their purpose if the smartphone is stolen or falls out of the pocket. For this case, functions help to delete all important data, lock the phone from a distance or query its location. In return, however, there are also some limitations. For the search for the smartphone to be successful, an Internet connection and activated location services are essential.
This requires certain antivirus programs and anti-theft software. With the help of these tools, it is possible to forward SMS commands to the missing phone. In this way, functions such as location tracking or Internet connection can be activated remotely. It is not even necessary for the cell phone to be rooted beforehand.
Protect your own cell phone with attention
All protective measures are helpful in protecting smartphone operating systems from malware, viruses, spy apps or other dangers. Nevertheless, smartphone users must always pay attention to the devices.
When in doubt, it is always advisable to trust your own gut feeling and remain critical. Accordingly, although all the measures are good support. But the best protection is still provided by the cell phone owners themselves.