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Rich Henderson works in IT and writes about tips for computer security, personal finance, and preventing identity theft.
July 24, 2012Net Nanny for Android 2.0
Dec 09, 2013
Mobile devices like smartphones, e-readers, and tablet PCs are all convenient, and some can even be fairly low-cost if you know how to shop - but they're all small, and small has its issues. These devices are easy to drop, easy for someone to steal, and it's very easy for something to go wrong with the electronics, which ultimately means an expensive repair. For all those reasons and more, it's essential that you protect your mobile devices. Read on for some helpful tips on how to do just that.
1. Choose a Complicated Password
One of the easiest places to start is "http://www.moneycrashers.com/create-password-prevent-hacking-phishing/" your device's password. Don't choose one that a criminal might easily decipher, like 123456 or your pet's name. Use an old telephone number, the street address you lived on as a kid, or simply a combination of numbers and letters that means something to you but no one else.
2. Activate Remote Swipe
How to activate the remote swipe feature on your mobile device varies slightly according to the manufacturer, carrier, and the device itself. Once you do set it up, if your device is lost or stolen, all of your sensitive information can be erased with the tap of a few buttons. Fortunately this feature is free. Unfortunately, it isn't available for e-readers. With those devices, contact customer service as soon as you realize it was lost or stolen and they can assist with de-registering it so no future purchases are made.
3. Use Antivirus Software
Antivirus software isn't just for your home PC, it's good for your mobile device, too. While products offered by Norton and McAfee are solid, they cost money. You can get all the protection you need for free from companies like Avast and AVG instead. Just be sure you keep your software up to date to maximize its effectiveness.
4. High Quality Protective Cover
In many cases your device is just one drop away from certain death, so a protective cover is always a good idea. There are literally hundreds to choose from, but that doesn't mean you have to spend $90 for an iPhone cover, like I recently saw advertised at Best Buy. Unless you go underwater snorkeling with your mobile device or trek the Sahara, choose one a little more in your price range. Amazon and eBay both have a wide variety of covers available at affordable pricing.
5. Be Careful Where You Use It
Checking Facebook while you sip on a latte at Starbucks is safe. Accessing its public wi-fi hotspot isn't. Use these networks with caution and by no means should you ever do any banking, or enter any sensitive information like a credit card number on them. Save that for your own private network in the comfort of your own home. It's too easy for criminals to mimic these networks or hack into them.
6. Do Not Modify Your Device
"Jailbreaking" or "rooting" your device makes it more convenient to customize. However, you also open yourself up to plenty of threats by doing so. If you don't know what these terms mean you have nothing to worry about - just be sure you don't purchase a device that's already been rooted or jailbroken. If you do know what they mean, let your knowledge of it end there.
One tip you may have found glaringly absent is that of purchasing insurance or an extended warranty for your mobile device. While there are instances where either can make sense (if the device is used by a child for example) it doesn't in every situation. Compare the cost of the insurance for a year with the price it would cost to replace your device if something happened to it. If you do a good job of caring for it - and you've already taken some of the above advice - insurance or an extended warranty might not be necessary. If you really want a warranty, consider a low-cost option from third-party warranty vendor SquareTrade. Protecting your device is important, just don't pay through the nose in order to do so.
What other ways can you think of to protect a mobile device?