When you’re shopping for a new smartphone, you likely want it to be safe and secure. But none of the tools you use to securely transmit your private information are automatically protected by default — and don’t always work as you expect.
These common smartphone passwords are easy to forget and downright forgettable. But they’re easily guessed or not long enough to successfully break into a device, making them ideal for theft.
Who’s responsible for keeping your personal data private? The government, of course. There are different online tools that help consumers keep their data safe and track how much money they’re paying for their phone plans each month. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks. Here’s what to know about each.
Hacking, hacking everywhere
Although your device is designed to protect your most sensitive data, vulnerabilities still exist. Phishing attacks typically try to steal information over email or social media, and even if you don’t make any purchases, hackers sometimes have access to your information. Security experts recommend that you sign up for two-factor authentication, which requires users to enter two different code combinations. But if hackers are able to gain remote access to your device, they’re also likely to be able to access your account (or ask for your personal information, anyway). Your personal information can be posted on public forums, tweeted or shared via WhatsApp, an application that has popular appeal among teens.
Here are three steps to take to help keep your private information safe and secure:
1. Review your banking and credit card accounts and accounts with other financial services so you can see all of your personal information — and where it is stored. This gives you time to prevent theft by backing up your data and moving it to another device or computer. By continually modifying your passwords and improving your password strength, you can help protect yourself.
2. By using strong passwords, you’ll be less likely to be hacked. The password alone should be no more than eight characters with varying character and number combinations and make your correct answers to security questions at least as unique as your username. Don’t use social media accounts or websites to input your passwords, and make it a habit to input your passwords in a text message or even once at the hardware store. It’s also a good idea to install third-party encryption tools, such as Wickr, to secure personal information.
3. It’s never too late to protect yourself, but it’s also never too soon to improve your password strength. Learn some good online security tools at Toms.co. To learn more, you can find a Toms password safety expert to help you create a good password: (855) 623-6489.
This article first appeared on Consumer Reports.
Find out more about technical issues on Toms.com.