A smartphone is much more than just a communications device. For many of us, our phones now serve as our address book, our diary, our photo album and more besides. With so much precious personal data and private content held on a phone, securing your appliance is essential.
This goes double if your device hosts any private files or personal, private content. These could be important documents, sensitive or explicit photos, or just about anything else you would not want a third party to access. To safely protect your confidentiality and hide any private content, follow these six steps.
First thing’s first. Ensure that your smartphone or tablet is inaccessible to anybody but you. There are multiple ways that you can, and should, achieve this. Start with a password screen so nobody can unlock your device and access your private content.
On Android devices, this could be a shape or a numeric code up to 17 digits. Obviously, the more the better. There are a finite number of 4-digit code combinations. Once you start increasing the numbers involved, it gets tougher to crack. Pick something unique, too. Don’t just use your birthday.
If the idea of remembering a long code is intimidating, consider using a fingerprint or Face ID. The latter is risky, though. Android face ID is less complex than that used by iOS appliances. On many devices, it can be tricked with a photo.
Now, you could use this to your advantage. Use a photo of somebody else that you keep in your purse or wallet to unlock your phone and nobody else will theoretically be able to access it. That’s a lot of work, though. It’s advisable to apply additional security precautions.
Take a look at the homepage of your smartphone, and especially any quick access widgets. Ask yourself – do you reallyneed immediate access to these apps and files? Especially your photo library? Because if you can get into them immediately, so can somebody else.
Create folders and place your apps within them. Android will assign categories for you automatically, but you can always change them. Provide innocuous-sounding titles that are unlikely to attract attention, such as “kids activities”. It’s hardly likely to foil a criminal mastermind, but it’s one tiny, additional layer of privacy.
Don’t let apps run in the background when you’re not using them, either. Not only will this retain battery life for longer, but it blocks avenues of access for third parties.
At best, leaving apps running means that your data is constantly being recorded and you’ll be targeted with advertising. At worst, you’ll be providing access to external eyes to your private content.
It sounds like something from a terrifying sci-fi dystopia, but hackers can spy on you through your smartphone camera. Basic spyware is cheap to purchase. If somebody watches how you interact with your appliance, they can quickly learn what you use your phone for.
Some people seek a slightly extreme solution, covering their cameras with electrical tape. That risks damage though, especially if you are constantly removing and re-applying tape to use the camera. It’s easier to simply disable the camera in your device settings when it’s not in use.
Yes, that can still be a bit of a pain. Most apps will ask for permission to use the camera when you open them, so you’ll need to constantly accept or decline this request. It’s a small price to pay for greater security and protecting your private images, though.
On an Android device, all photos automatically save to Google Photos. Unless you adjust your settings, images and videos received from WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger will also make their way into this app.
That’s far from ideal. Anybody could be flicking through your pictures for innocent reasons, including children. If you do not want private, sensitive images rubbing shoulders with snapshots of the family dog, archive them.
This is easily achieved. Just hold your finger on an image that you want to be archived, then tap any others that require the same treatment. Tap on the trio of dots at the top-right of your screen and press archive. You’ll now need to access the archive to view these images.
Remember, an archive is not the same as a deletion. Anybody can still view your private files by entering this folder. If you panic and delete the photos, you can always retrieve them using Dumpster. Alternatively, use a photo vault for your security. More on that in a moment.
We’ve mentioned the threat of hackers a few times now. We’re sorry if this sounds frightening, but we won’t apologise for caring about your privacy. That’s what we’re here for. If you have any reason to believe that your phone or tablet security has been compromised, check for any signs of malware.
Telltale signs that your appliance has been infected with malware include:
Remember, if you have malware on your smartphone, somebody has access to your files. That includes your most private, intimate visuals. Take immediate action, installing a trusted virus scanner.
Our advice so far has centred around protecting your private files from external third parties. Even if your appliance is not hacked, your private data could be viewed by anybody with your handset.
The way around this is to install a photo vault. This ensures that images can be moved to a private, encrypted location. If you use Cover for this purpose, any sensitive images or videos will automatically be blocked or hidden in this vault. Cover is the last word in smartphone and tablet security.
There are many steps that anybody can take to protect smartphone privacy. Installing Cover is the best way to ensure that private content remains exclusively for your eyes only, though. Download the app today. You’ll sleep better knowing that your sensitive files are completely secure.