It’s no secret that the technology we use can make us a target for viruses and cyber-attacks if not properly secured. When it comes to using mobile devices, no manual is provided with a phone to teach the user about mobile safety. In addition, threats are constantly evolving and adapting to our habits.

To help you navigate your device safely, we’ve 8 mobile security tips to keep your device safe.

1) Keep your phone locked

A potential threat is that your device could be stolen, giving the thief full access to your personal information. Make sure your screen is locked to prevent this. Whether it’s a passcode, pattern, fingerprint, or facial recognition depends on you and your device’s capabilities.

When you activate a lock screen, you can choose how long the phone can be inactive before it is locked. Make sure to choose the shortest time. This protects you by activating the lock screen automatically, even if you forget to lock it yourself. It also saves your battery because the screen goes dark after a certain amount of time.

2) Set secure passwords

Setting strong passwords for your apps makes it harder for a hacker to guess. It is also recommended to set a different password for each app. This way, if a password is discovered, the hacker will not have access to all your information.

Not only are personal devices a problem, but professional devices are also at risk. According to the Verizon Mobile Security Index 2018 report, only 39% of business mobile device users change all default passwords and only 38% use strong two-factor authentication on their mobile devices. Weak passwords can put an entire business at risk.

3) Keep your device’s operating system up to date

Mobile phone operating system updates are designed to enhance your experience. This can be anything from performance to security. While they are common and users tend to click through quickly or ask the device to remind them in the future, it’s important to stay aware of them. These updates can protect both iOS and Android devices from newly discovered threats. To check if your phone’s operating system is up to date, go to “About Phone” or “General” and click “System Updates” or “Software Update”.

4) Connect to secure WiFi

The great thing about mobile devices is that we can access the internet anywhere, anytime. One of the first things we do in a restaurant or with friends looking for WiFi. While free Wi-Fi can save us data, it’s important to be careful with unsecured networks.

Make sure to connect to a virtual private network or VPN to stay safe while using public Wi-Fi. Check out Panda VPN for Android, which allows you to enjoy a secure Wi-Fi connection even on public networks. Changing your virtual network protects your location and keeps your information safe from prying eyes. On the other hand, make sure your Wi-Fi is secure to prevent others from accessing your network.

5) Beware of Downloads

When downloading apps, make sure to download them from the official app stores and check the ratings. Cybercriminals create rogue mobile apps that impersonate trusted brands to obtain users’ sensitive information. To avoid this trap, look at the number of reviews, recent updates, and the organization’s contact information.

6) Do not jailbreak or root your phone

Jailbreaking or rooting your phone is when you unlock your phone and remove the manufacturer’s protection so you can access whatever you want. It may be tempting to jailbreak or root your phone to access other than the official app stores, but doing so carries a high level of risk. The apps in these illegitimate stores have not been vetted and can easily hack into your phone and steal your information.

7) Encrypt your data

Your smartphone contains a lot of data. When lost or stolen, your email, contacts, financial information and more could be at risk. To protect your mobile phone data, you can make sure that the data is encrypted. Encrypted data is stored in an unreadable form so that it cannot be understood.

Most phones have encryption settings that you can activate in the security menu. To check if your iOS device is encrypted, go to the Settings menu and then click on “Touch ID & Passcode”. You will be asked to enter your lock screen code. Then scroll to the bottom of the page where it should say “Privacy is enabled”.

To encrypt an Android, make sure your device is 80% charged and unroot your phone before proceeding. Once these things are done, go to “Security” and select “Encrypt Phone”. If you don’t charge your device, unroot, or interrupt the encryption process, you could lose all your data. Encryption can take an hour or more.

8) Install antivirus software

You’ve probably heard of antivirus software for laptops or desktops, but your portable computers can benefit too. These programs can protect against viruses and hacking attempts. Some software, such as Panda’s free antivirus software, offers VPN features as a bonus. Smartphones are pocket-sized computers that can store all your important data and personal information. By following these mobile security tips, you can keep your device safe.