Many smart phone users don't adequately secure their phones, according to our latest survey. If that group includes you, here are three simple steps you can take to protect your privacy as well as the information on your phone if it's lost or stolen:
- Set up a strong screen lock. This will prevent others from, say, accessing your e-mail or contact list. Unless you have an iPhone 5, use a code that includes more than four letters, numbers, and symbols. With an iPhone 5, four digits is strong enough, because it allows only a few wrong tries before locking.
- Turn off location tracking when you don't need it. This can keep various apps from needlessly collecting information about where you work, shop, or play. When you do need the feature, such as for driving directions, turn it back on.
- Be alert to insecure hot spots. If you use a Wi-Fi connection, such as at an airport, coffee shop, or hotel, that you're not sure is secure, make sure any app you use to engage in financial transactions or other sensitive work secures any data it transmits or receives. Or use your phone's 3G/4G connection, which is more secure than a random hot spot. Otherwise, you may disclose an account number or password to a nearby criminal.
Don't know how to set up a strong screen lock or turn off location tracking? Watch our video.
See more of our survey findings along with our infographic, "How well do you protect your information?", and our interactive quiz: "Would you download this app?" in our story, "Keep your phone safe: How to protect yourself from wireless threats." And for many more tips on keeping safe and private online, visit our Guide to Internet Security.
Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.