How many silly things do you do with your smartphone?
More than half of all Australian adults own a smartphone, with many still thinking their smartphone is just a nifty phone where they can play Angry Birds, rather than a very powerful mini-computer that happens to make phone calls. This type of thinking can lead to a world of pain.
Why? Because the amount of sensitive data most of us store on our shiny little devices is staggering. This machine in our pocket gives us direct access to our bank accounts; stores our passwords to Facebook, Twitter, our email, eBay, and Amazon accounts and houses the phone numbers, email and home address of our family, friends and colleagues.
Imagine what would happen if someone got their grubby little mitts on all that data?
Losing your phone can be annoying, but there are plenty of other dumb things people do to put themselves at risk. Here are the 10 dumbest things that people do (or fail to do) with their smartphones.
1. Failing to lock up
While a password lock on your phone is nowhere near foolproof, it acts as a pretty simple deterrent for would-be hackers. Similar to a car with an immobiliser, thieves will try and pick the easy option. It’s a lot easier to hack into a phone with no password than it is to try and crack your code.
2. We have an app for that
Most of us have shopped online, on either eBay or Amazon. And a lot of us do it from our phones. Most online stores have apps for both iPhone and Android and you should make use of them. Shopping apps are more secure and are designed to prevent phishing (those scams where people send official looking emails asking for your username, password or credit card details) and other kinds of scams. Just make sure you download the store’s official app.
3. Always log out
Would you keep your debit card or credit card laying about on your desk at work or on the dashboard of your car? Probably not. Then why would you keep your phone constantly logged into those same accounts? Always make sure that you log out when you finish banking or shopping… And never, ever let the app save your user ID or password. Yes, it’s convenient, but if someone gets a hold of your phone that is already logged into sensitive accounts — boom, money gone.
4. Free WiFi? You betcha!
While out and about, one of the smartest things you can do is switching off the feature that connects to WiFi networks automatically. With the right know-how and software, hackers can easily hack your phone and steal all those goodies inside. Don’t give them an easy opening.
5. Sorry, I can’t hear you, my Bluetooth is playing up
Similar to WiFi connections, hackers can exploit the open Bluetooth connection on your phone and poke around inside. While the hacker needs to be pretty close to you (less than 20 metres away), the hack is hard to detect and can often happen in hotel lobbies, bars or at conferences.
6. Get rid of your data before you get rid of your phone
The promise of technology tantalises us all, with so many of us upgrading our phones every year or so. The problem is, many of us forget to remove all of our personal data from our old phones before we give them away or sell them. When upgrading, make sure you restore your old phone to its original factory settings before you get rid of it.
7. But, but, it’s free
Some Apps that call themselves “free” are actually little more than thinly-disguised data thieves. Downloading one gives the app complete access to your phone, which a fraudster can use to steal your credit card and bank account info. Such apps also can turn your phone into a launch pad from which scammers can attack other peoples’ phones with SMS texts and Smishing scams. Be smart and discreet about what you download. Read reviews first, and make sure the apps you download come from reputable sources.
8. Passwords – you know you have them
Many people use the notebook app on their phones to store passwords, pin numbers, credit card or bank account information for easy reference. While it’s convenient to have them all in one place, it’s also convenient for hackers to find and steal, especially if the phone is not password protected. Some people even label the document or note “passwords,” which is like a beacon to anyone snooping in. Whatever you do with your phone, don’t do this.
Much like staying logged into the website of your bank or online store, hackers can use your browsing history to hijack your accounts and get up to all kinds of mischief. Most internet browsers on your phone allow you to clear your history.
10. Where’s that dang-blasted remote?
As we said at the start, losing your phone is more than simply annoying. Luckily, there are plenty of apps and services that can help you locate your phone and also wipe its data clean if it’s lost or stolen.