Our phones collect data in every aspect of our lives, and that data can easily end up in the wrong hands. Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can take to protect your privacy.
Many apps use your phone’s GPS in helpful ways – few of us could do without maps, for example – but that doesn’t mean you should blindly allow every app to use it. When a new app asks for permission to use location data, ask yourself this: does it need to know where you are to function correctly? If it doesn’t, decline.
That last point applies particularly to photography apps, as the snaps we take often end up all over social networks – often with location data unwittingly attached. Either disable location tracking for your camera app, or be careful with the settings when you upload your pictures.
When you connect your social network account to another app, you’re effectively allowing them to use the data on you. It’s the location data question again: if this app doesn’t really need to see your entire Facebook profile, don’t let it.
The built-in browsers on today’s smartphones all have private modes, in which your browsing history isn’t stored on the phone. This is a great way to be a bit more private, but just be aware that you’re not anonymous: your activity is still tracked by the websites you visit.
Be aware of the risks of using public wi-fi: what kind of security does the owner use on the connection, who has access to the records, is it an open connection vulnerable to wi-phishing? When avoiding sensitive tasks such as online banking or business email may not be enough to protect your privacy, try a secured hotspot with Norton Hotspot Privacy.
It’s great to be able to do your banking on the go, but with so much at stake it pays to be cautious. Don’t do your banking over public Wi-Fi, and make sure your app logs you out automatically when you close it.
You shouldn’t use the same password on every site, but equally there are risks to letting your browser store passwords for you. It’s far better to use a third-party password app, which will generate random passwords for you as required, and store your logins behind a master password. Norton Identity Safe is a free tool that makes logging into your favorite sites safer and secure.
Advertising isn’t going away, but you can make it less intrusive. Today’s smartphones send targeted ads based on what they know about you, but you can switch to untargeted ads instead. In Android, go to the Market’s Settings page and uncheck the box for “Receive interest-based ads”; in iOS it’s under Privacy | Ad tracking.
Apps collect data on you. That might be fine with a company you trust, but it should set off alarm bells when you download and install an obscure or free app from a third-party app store. Use Norton Mobile Security to scan apps for malware.
Stay up to date
This final point is obvious, but it’s amazing how many people ignore it. Every new version of your phone’s operating system will include security enhancements to protect against the latest threats. If you don’t upgrade, you’re leaving the front door open.