Where was the last public place you visited that had Wi-Fi? These days, nearly every coffee shop, library, airport and hotel offer a way to access the internet from your cell phone or other mobile device. That means the information you have on your phone could be available to hackers in the area – unless you’ve taken steps to protect your data. Here are a few recommendations from the University of Michigan:
- Don’t access personal or financial data with public Wi-Fi. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people check their bank accounts or make purchases with a credit card while using public Wi-Fi. It’s best to do those things on a secure connection.
- Turn off anything you don’t need. Hackers can use certain features on your phone to get at your information, location or connection. So, instead of keeping your GPS, wireless connection and geo-tracking on all the time, just turn them on when you need them.
- Choose your apps wisely. Only download apps from trustworthy sources that have established a good reputation. Make sure you update your software and apps regularly and get rid of old apps you don’t use.
- Use a password, lock code or encryption. Make sure your passwords are at least eight characters long, with a mix of upper and lower case, and include numbers or other characters, and never use the auto-complete feature for passwords. You can use the storage encryption feature on your phone to protect your private data, and set your screen to timeout after five minutes or less.
- Be skeptical about links and attachments. If you’re not sure about the source, don’t use the link or open the attachment.
- Trace or erase. Make sure your data is secure if your mobile device is stolen or lost. You can set up your device to lock itself after a pre-set number of failed log-in attempts.