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Is My Smartphone Secure?

September 19, 2019

A short video clip of Kanye West entering his passcode on his smartphone across a table from Donald Trump.

On live TV, Kanye West unlocked his iPhone with his passcode, which was 000000. Security features on mobile devices improve every year, but they aren't effective unless you actively implement them. Here's how you can protect your smartphone:

  • Use a strong passcode. FaceID and Fingerprint sensors are great, but they can be bypassed with a passcode. If anyone sees you enter your passcode, or if your passcode is easily guessed, your phone can still be compromised.
  • Keep your phone up to date. OS updates protect your phone from known vulnerabilities. Attackers or thieves can use these vulnerabilities to bypass your passcode and access your data, or reset your phone.
  • Check your app permissions. You may have given an app access to personal data on your phone or Google account without realizing it. Many free apps on the App Store and Google Play store are known to request greater permissions than needed and capture users’ data. As a rule of thumb: If an app is free, then you are the product.
  • Be cautious of public WiFi. Attackers can create fake WiFi hotspots to capture your online activity (such as logging your email or bank passwords). Always Safeguard your WiFi with VPN when using public networks. Biola’s AnyConnect VPN is available for mobile devices.
  • Backup your data. You should regularly back up your mobile device to a local computer or to the cloud. Both Android and iOS provide automatic backup features. You should always have a recent backup of your device.
  • Wipe your device if it’s stolen. Make sure a device manager is enabled on your phone or tablet. If your device is lost or stolen, immediately log in to your online account and delete the data on your lost device. Android and iOS both provide remote wiping features, and Windows can remotely lock your device. If you retrieve your device, you can then recover your data from your backup.