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Phone security: Keeping your phone safe

By Josh Levesque

Originally published November 28, 2023

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Last Updated February 8, 2024

Mint Fox holding up a sign - "phone security: keeping your phone safe"

It’s the holiday season, which means we’re all spending time with family, friends and large groups of strangers. Whether you’re moving through airports trying to visit every in-law or hustling through the mall looking for last-minute gifts (even though you swore you’d do better this year), you’re going to find yourself surrounded by people you don’t know. This makes focusing on phone security this time of year especially important. Keep reading for some helpful phone security tips that will give you peace of mind through the holiday season and beyond.

In this article

Why mobile device security is important

Cyber security is a major concern pretty much anywhere there’s technology, and considering the number of global cyberattacks increased by 38% in 2022,* it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. The word “cyberattack” might have you picturing massive computer systems going down in the summer’s hottest blockbuster action movie, but mobile devices are just as vulnerable.  

Network Security Tips
Careful with Public Wi-Fi
Use a VPN
Connect via Mobile Hotspot
Download an Antivirus App

How do I make sure my phone is secure?

Protecting the data in your cell phone is paramount, and as you can imagine, a phone case that says “Keep Out” isn’t gonna cut it. The most basic steps you can take to protect your phone include being fully aware of your surroundings, keeping your phone close to you at all times and utilizing security features like a passcode, fingerprint lock or facial recognition. These simple practices can go a long way toward keeping your phone secure. 

Cell phone network security tips

We know the stats we mentioned above can be a bit scary (which is so last season), but fortunately there are some easy steps you can take to ensure your phone isn’t hacked while you’re waiting for your food, your flight or your turn to checkout. 

Verify public Wi-Fi networks

Almost every public place has Wi-Fi nowadays, which means every public place is a potential spot for hackers to post up. Some hackers will create open Wi-Fi networks with misleading names to trick people into connecting to their system and opening themselves up to cyberattacks. Before connecting to the Wi-Fi at your favorite cafe, ask an employee to verify the network name. Bonus security points if the network is password protected.

What to do (and what to avoid) when using public Wi-Fi

Of course, we still need to use public Wi-Fi sometimes, whether it’s at a cafe, a shopping mall or the airport. Once you’ve verified and connected to a public Wi-Fi network, there are a few additional safety measures we recommend. Stick to “https” websites when browsing; these are authenticated sites that use encryption for added security. Make sure your device’s software is up to date too. And if you can, avoid accessing any sensitive info while on public Wi-Fi, like personal emails or your bank account.      

Use a VPN on your phone

Using a private browser or “incognito mode” can hide your search history, but it doesn’t do much to protect you from hackers when connecting to public Wi-Fi. However, a VPN, or “Virtual Private Network,” will hide your phone’s IP address and encrypt any data you send through the server. Many companies offer VPN services for multiple devices at a low monthly fee.** 

Use another phone’s mobile hotspot feature

If you’re with a trusted friend or family member, connect to their phone via mobile hotspot for protected web browsing. Hotspots are password protected, so only people given the password by your trusted loved one should have access to the network.

Use phone antivirus apps

Just like on your laptop, antivirus measures can keep your phone safe too. There are many third-party antivirus apps available in the App Store or Google Play, so be sure to check the reviews. We also recommend going with a trusted name brand. 

Avoid public charging stations

It’s 4:30 PM and you’re in the mall food court, taking a break from last-minute gift shopping to re-energize with a smoothie when you notice your phone could use a bit more juice too. That charging station by the bathrooms might seem convenient, but the FBI recently issued a warning against using public USB connections due to an increase in malware infections.*** Better break out your own charging cable and hook up to a standard outlet instead.

Phone protection tips graphic with a phone password

Device security protection tips

We’ve covered the steps to take when protecting your phone from virtual security threats, but what happens if the entire device gets stolen? Fortunately, even when your phone winds up in the wrong hands, your data doesn’t have to. Let’s discuss the physical features that can help keep your phone secure from anyone who might get a hold of it.

Create a phone password

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people still opt not to have a simple passcode on their phone. Whether it’s a numerical code or a lock pattern, the extra 2-3 seconds it takes you to get into your phone is worth the protection it brings. 

Set up biometric protection

In addition to a password, you can enable biometric security features that require your face or fingerprint to access your phone. These options can be found in your phone’s settings under “Security,” although if we had our way, they’d be labeled “Super cool futuristic stuff.” 

Set up two-factor authentication

This feature requires you to confirm your identity more than once (hence the “two-factor” part) to access specific apps. It may be via fingerprint and a security question, via a third-party authentication app, or by receiving a temporary passcode via email or SMS. This can be turned on in an app’s security settings. 

Use a tracking app

Apple offers Find My iPhone while Google has Find My Device for Android phones, and there are also multiple third-party apps available that allow you to track where your phone is if you misplace it or it winds up in the wrong hands. 

This concludes “Phone Security 101”

Now that you’ve taken our crash course on phone security and know how to keep your phone safe, it’s time to apply some more helpful hacks to fully optimize your iPhone or Android device. Another easy way to optimize your phone? Bring it to Mint Mobile. We’ve got premium wireless on the nation’s largest 5G network starting at just $15/mo.† Use our compatibility checker to see if that phone will work on our network and start the switch today.

*https://blog.checkpoint.com/2023/01/05/38-increase-in-2022-global-cyberattacks/

**https://www.forbes.com/advisor/l/best-vpn-services/

***https://www.cnbc.com/2023/04/10/fbi-says-you-shouldnt-use-public-phone-charging-stations.html

†New activation & upfront payment for 3-month plan req’d. Taxes & fees extra. Addt’l restrictions apply. See mintmobile.com for full terms.

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