1. SKIPPING SECURITY SOFTWARE
Antivirus software is not a perfect defense, but it offers basic protection. Although antivirus programs are available for smartphones, security analysts say most users don’t use them.
Even with antivirus software installed, anyone who steals your phone still has access to your data—no hacking required. Someone in the United States loses a phone every 3.5 seconds, according to Lookout Mobile Security, so make sure your smartphone has anti-theft software, such as Prey, that can erase data remotely if a thief steals your phone, and tracking software such as Find My iPhone to track it down.
2. IGNORING SOFTWARE UPDATES
Your smartphone’s operating system and apps need occasional updates to patch weaknesses in security or address new threats. Usually, device manufacturers, service providers, and operating system or app developers deliver those updates remotely. Yes, sometimes there’s a reason to stall before updating.
3. SKIPPING PASSWORDS OR PINS
It may be annoying to re-enter your phone’s password every time you wake it from sleep, but having a password is one of the easiest ways to keep your phone to yourself. When your phone is idle, it should lock and require a password, a personal identification number (PIN), or a swipe pattern to regain access.
4. JAIL-BREAKING OR ROOTING
We’re not saying to never jailbreak your phone. We’re just saying be absolutely sure you know what you’re doing first.
Smartphones come from the factory with restrictions on which apps can be installed and how much access users have to crucial levels of the smartphone’s operating system. Jail breaking your iPhone or rooting your Android device removes those restrictions. That’s certainly tempting, since you’ll no longer be restricted to a single mobile network, and you’ll gain access to some hidden system settings.
5. USING PUBLIC WI-FI NETWORKS
Most smartphone users keep Wi-Fi turned on because using Wi-Fi networks is cheaper than using mobile data, especially with unlimited data plans fading away. But all the information you send and receive over a public Wi-Fi connection is visible to anyone on the network who knows how to look. The connection also gives hackers an easy route into your device.
6. DOWNLOADING MALICIOUS APPS
Cyber security company Trend-micro predicted last year that the Android ecosystem alone will see 1 million malicious or dangerous apps in 2013. Most of them look innocent, with some even masquerading as legitimate and popular apps To steer clear of fakes, download apps from recognized, trusted sources only. Official app stores like Android’s Google Play and Apple’s App Store are the safest options. Research each app yourself, and before you download, make sure you understand which information and settings the app can access.
7. CLICKING ON DANGEROUS LINKS
Users are three times more likely to fall for phishing scams on smartphones than on computers, according to security firm RSA. That’s in part because phony login pages are harder to spot on simple mobile websites, and shortened URLs make it hard to tell whether an address is legitimate. Never click on a link in a text message, even one from a friend.
8. INFECTING YOUR COMPUTER VIA YOUR PHONE
If you connect to your home or office network with an infected smartphone, the malware can spread to every computer, tablet, and smartphone on the network. Maintaining antivirus software and good security habits on your smartphone can help avoid infection, or detect it in time to keep the device off your network until it is clean.