Cell phones have become the heart of our digital existence—which is pretty much our entire existence. That little device the size of a wallet holds all your banking info, GPS, contacts, search history, shopping shortcuts, sentimental photos, ongoing conversations with friends, profile, discount coupons, tickets to events, and a folder full of bathroom ideas for when you get around to that dream remodel.
Losing your phone is scary.
Inadvertently sharing all that info with a stranger is horrifying.
There’s an old film with Michael Keaton called Multiplicity. OK, it wasn’t that good of a movie, but it makes a great analogy.
Michael Keaton’s character Doug finds himself pressed for time between demands at work and demands at home. With the help of a semi-mad scientist, he clones himself—4 times. This gives him time to go on an exotic fishing trip while clones take care of work, home repairs, errands, etc. Of course it turns into trouble, with each clone having his own motivations. So think of your digital identity being hijacked by marketers, hackers, crazy Russians, teenage kids out for kicks…even purveyors of smut who want those photos of your 4-year-old jumping off the diving board.
What do you do about it?
Here are the 6 things TechRadar says you can do to make your phone more secure.
- Lock your phone. That’s great if somebody actually steals your phone. But it doesn’t block trackers from sneaking in through backdoors every time you visit a site.
- Keep the OS up to date. This helps, since updates block the most recent security hacks. But it requires you to have an open door to the update. And if that door is open, who knows what else can get in.
- Stick to known brands. Off-brand or second-tier budget phones are not as secure. So don’t buy a cheap phone in a back-alley. Got it. But really, who does that?
- Encryption. This is a good idea. There are good programs out there that take you through a step-by-step process to keep data on your phone encrypted.
- Scan for viruses. Another great idea because virus happen all the time to every phone. The fact that a phone is open to the outside world means viruses are always looking for ways to get in. And they do.
- Don’t jailbreak/root your phone. There is a cultish group of phone hacks who believe they know more than the people who actually made the phone. So they pop open the back and tinker around, usually resulting in more open doors than ever for hackers. Leave the operating system alone. Don’t try to retrofit a homemade whirligig on a phone just because it’s cool.
This list is mostly common sense. And if you do everything here, you’ll be safer, but not totally secure. You could still spawn clones of yourself without knowing it, clones that could do nasty things to your real self.
The only way to be totally secure is with an operating system built on security. One that doesn’t harvest your data or share your location. One that uses a private network, encryption, an intelligent filter that blocks everything, and only lets in valid sites and requests. An operating system that won’t let cookies or trackers or Russian spies in. A phone that does that is not only more secure, it’s also performs a lot better.