Security · June 09, 2022

8 Ways to Stay Secure on Your Mobile Device

While mobile technology was once used primarily for making voice calls, it's now common for users to pay for a purchase or review a bank statement using their devices. As people rely on these devices for increasingly sensitive tasks, mobile security has become crucial for protecting personal information from threats like malware, hackers and fraud. These security tips can help protect you and your data.

1 Keep your mobile device locked

Have you ever set your phone down on a table, then accidentally walked away without it? If your device is unlocked, letting it out of your sight for a few minutes gives anyone nearby a chance to open it up and find your personal information. That's why it's best to protect your device with a password or passcode, fingerprint swipe, or facial recognition. Also set your device to automatically lock within a short time when it's not in use.

2 Use only secure apps and websites

Download apps only from the Apple App Store® or the Google Play™ store—which are required to meet basic mobile security standards—and review how long each app has been in existence, the number of downloads it has, and its customer reviews. Don't install apps that you find on other sites or that you receive in message attachments. When shopping or banking online, visit only secure websites that start with https:// and that have a lock icon in the address bar.

3 Choose strong passwords

Hackers love short passwords containing dictionary words or default passcodes like 1234, so choose passwords that are at least 13 characters long. It's a good idea to make it a phrase or sentence that's memorable to you but not easily guessed by someone else. Avoid using names as passwords, and don't choose a password that includes personal information like your birthday or ZIP code. And don't share your passwords or use the same password for all devices and apps. If cybercriminals got their hands on that password, they could access all of your accounts.

4 Update your operating system frequently

If your mobile device's manufacturer discovers a new security weakness, regular updates to its operating system and apps can fix the problem. However, updates only protect you if they're installed, so check for them frequently so you can benefit from beefed-up security as soon as possible. It's a good idea to monitor and update apps at least once a month. Some can be set to update automatically. However, be aware that these types of apps may also require additional permissions to your device.

5 Be careful with public Wi-Fi

Many security breaches happen on public networks. Someone who logs on to the network while you're using it—or who just looks over your shoulder in a busy room—might be able to grab some of your personal data. Don't use Wi-Fi hotspots that aren't password protected. To be extra safe, try to avoid accessing your financial and legal accounts in public places where you can't be certain of privacy, and don't discuss personal or sensitive matters in a public place. You never know who may overhear the conversation.

6 Audit your settings

Some apps request that you give them access to certain information or functionality, including your contacts, camera and location. Be aware of the information the app is accessing or storing, and remove the app's permissions whenever possible. If you don't want your activity tracked, turn off location sharing and enable it only when you need it for maps and directions. The same goes for Bluetooth's discoverable mode and geo-tagging—which stores the location of any pictures on your device inside an image file, making it easier for hackers to find you.

7 Watch out for phishing scammers

Be aware that scammers may pose as people or companies you trust to collect sensitive information or gain access to your device. Don't respond to calls, emails or suspicious text messages asking you to share personal details, log in to an account or install software. If you're unsure whether a request is from a legitimate source, use the contact information you already have for the company—not the number or address from the suspicious message—to learn whether it's valid. It's also a good idea to block the suspicious sender and report it as spam.

8 Clear your phone before disposing of it

Leaving sensitive or personal information on your device could lead to identity theft. It's important to delete all data from your old phone before donating or disposing of it. The easiest way to do this is to wipe the device by performing a factory reset and then entering fake data to overwrite any traces of the original data.

Following security guidelines helps keep your personal information private. When you take these simple steps to prevent your data from falling into the wrong hands, you can feel confident about using your mobile devices for all of your on-the-go needs.


A few financial insights for your life

No results found

Apple, the Apple logo and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple, Inc., registered in the US and other countries.

This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. First Citizens Bank (or its affiliates) neither endorses nor guarantees this information, and encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.

Links to third-party websites may have a privacy policy different from First Citizens Bank and may provide less security than this website. First Citizens Bank and its affiliates are not responsible for the products, services and content on any third-party website.