Improving Your Smartphone Privacy

Most of us use our smartphones all day long to listen to music, read books, talk to friends, take pictures, go shopping and much more. It’s an indispensable device. At the same time, we don’t usually take privacy and security as seriously as we would with our house or car. We lock our house and cars and sometimes even use alarms to protect ourselves. We should use the same consideration to protect our phones.

Here are a few tips for keeping your privacy private:

  1. Use an alphanumeric passcode and avoid using your fingerprint.

Using your fingerprint to unlock phone is convenient, but the police can force you to use your fingerprint to unlock your phone. They cannot compel you to give your passcode.

  1. Encrypt your phone.

Most smartphones come encrypted. After iOS 3, iPhones come automatically encrypted and most Androids also come encrypted. In Android, you can check encryption by going to Settings and then Security. Look under Encryption. It will tell you if phone is encrypted or you can follow directions to encrypt phone.

  1. Avoid showing personal information on lock screen.

Both Android and iOS could potentially show private information for the lock screen. In Android, go to Settings and then Notifications. Tap the gear icon at top and then tap lock screen. You have several options including “Hid sensitive notification content” or even “Don’t show notifications.” In iOS, swipe right on lock screen to see widgets. If you see notifications that should be private, tap “edit” at bottom of widgets. Enter passcode, and delete widgets that should be private.

  1. Disable lock screen access features.

In iOS, you may have more features enabled on lock screen then you might realize. When I checked my phone, I saw that I had message reply enabled and few other features that would allow someone to impersonate me without unlocking phone. To check what is enabled on the iOS, go to Settings, Touch ID & Passcode, and find “lock screen access.” From here you can turn off what you will allow access to when your phone is locked.

  1. Location services

Apps may be tracking your location unnecessarily. You should decide who can track location and when. To make adjustments in iOS, go to Setting, Privacy, Location Services, and System Services and turn off Locations. On Android, you should go to Settings, Apps and tap gear icon at top. Tap “app permissions” to adjust permission to things like Calendar, Contacts, Location, and Microphone. If you aren’t sure, it is better not to trust the app.

  1. Two-Step Verification

Many of your accounts like Apple ID, Gmail, Facebook, and more can be set up, requiring two-factor authentication or two-step verification. For help setting two-factor authentication on your accounts, check out instructions for these popular apps.

  1. Find My Phone

The find my phone feature on Android or iOS is up for debate. It will make it easier to find your phone if lost, but it will share data with servers at Google or Apple. On Android, this feature is called Android Device Manager. To turn on go to Settings, Personal, Services, and tap Android Device Manager. On iOS, go to Settings, iCloud, and tap switch beside Find My iPhone.

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