How to Secure Mobile Data in a Tik-Tok Ban World
If the Tik Tok ban has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t trust any app on your phone.
Not a single one, no matter what comes out of the company’s mouth.
Apps are in business to make money, and they make money via your personal data, be it browsing behavior, location, personal information, or anything else they can get their grubby hands on.
You can still use all of your favorite apps with peace of mind (somewhat) IF you take a few simple steps to protect yourself.
In this article, we’ll show you how to actually protect your personal data, so Google, the White House, the Chinese government, and the people at Angry Birds can’t steal your soul.
A Note About Apps and Privacy in General
It’s sad, but it’s true: There’s no way to fully protect yourself in a connected world.
An app that behaves well one day could easily turn its back on you the next.
A law might change that gives it new data-collection liberties.
A government might compromise your privacy by forcing the app to fork over data.
Everyone could do everything right, but a flaw in its design could open it (And you) up to hacks.
Does that mean we’ll all stop using Messenger, Uber Eats, or Instagram?
Just be aware of the risks.
These tips and apps will protect you as much as possible.
7 Tips for Keeping Your Data on LOCK
#1) K.Y.A – Know Your App
What was the last app you downloaded?
Did you research the company behind it?
Probably not. That’s because most of us don’t.
But the best way to keep yourself safe from data-stealing apps is to not download them. If it’s a large, well-known company with clear and fair data policies, it’s fine.
If the company doesn’t provide much information or is involved with agencies or governments that have acted bad in the past, be careful.
TIP: Google the app’s name + data breach, scam, or fraud and see what Google turns up. If they’ve acted bad in the past, they’ll do it again.
#2) Use a VPN on Public Wi-Fi
Public wi-fi hotspots at cafes, libraries, or universities are often not secured. This means intelligent criminals can use tools – often found for free online – to see what you enter into websites.
For example, if you log into your internet banking, a cyber criminal could access your username and password, then have free reign over your financial accounts.
Using a virtual private network (VPN) gives you privacy and security by creating a private network out of a public one. That means any and all information you send will be sent via that private network rather than through the public one you’re connected to.
VPNs “scramble” the information, making it impossible to read. Plus you can set your location to anywhere so apps or hackers can’t see your current location. You can even use it to bypass national content blocking.
The Best VPN APP: ExpressVPN – Fast, secure, and affordable, ExpressVPN keeps your connection fast and your data safe all for about $7/mo. Can’t beat it. You’ll never have to worry about hacks on a public network again.
#3) Be Careful of App Permissions
After you download an app, it will often ask for “permissions”.
Apps will often ask to access your phone, camera, microphone, or location.
For some apps this makes sense. Uber needs to know where you are so the driver doesn’t end up in Timbuktu. Instagram needs to use your camera so people can see your cat do absolutely nothing but look cute doing it.
But for some apps, it doesn’t make sense. If a calculator app asks to see your contacts list, it’s a scam. Delete it.
If a beauty camera app wants to use your microphone, that means it’s listening to you and harvesting data. DELTE.
A recent study concluded over 1,000 Android apps were stealing data unbeknownst to the user, including Shutterfly, a photo app that was illegally taking location data from photos and using it for their own gain.
#4) Update Your Software Constantly
It might be annoying, but software updates are for good reason.
Think of them like the yearly flu vaccine: The flu keeps evolving, so you need to get a new vaccine every year to stay one step ahead.
Same with your operating software. Hackers keep evolving, constantly finding new ways to exploit the software on your phone. So you need to stay one step ahead. Every time your phone company releases a new “vaccine”, download it!
The newest updates will patch up weaknesses in your defenses.
#5) Download an Antivirus Software
Viruses are everywhere.
They can be in a public wifi network or websites.
You might download an app that has adware and tries to trick you into entering your credentials.
Some sites even auto install virus software into your phone that steals your processing power to mine cryptocurrency.
The world really is a crazy place!
Antivirus software uses AI to recognize malicious code and “quarantine” it before it gets a chance to run on your device, meaning you’re automatically protected from infectious code trying to steal your identity. And you don’t even have to wear a mask!
If you want to take it a step further, download a “cleaning” program that periodically wipes your phone clean of data that you aren’t using or might be infectious. You can never be too safe.
The Best Antivirus Software: Overall, the two best antivirus apps are Bitdefender and Avast. Bitdefender is a bit easier to use but Avast is the biggest name in the business. Either way, you’ll be protected against viruses!
#6) Make Strong Passwords and Use a PW Manager
Did you know that only 38% of employees in large enterprises use strong two-factor authentication on their mobile devices?
Is it any wonder why data breaches are so common?
Viruses and human hackers are constantly trying to steal your credentials. The best thing you can do is make impossible-to-crack passwords and store them in one central location so only you have access.
A password manager is just a program that generates super strong passwords and saves them all in one place so you don’t have to remember them. And you make one main password for that program so you can gain access.
The Best Password Manager App: LastPass is the be all end all of password managers. Almost all the big names use it. Just install the app on your phone and use the free plan. That should be enough!
#7) Encrypt Your Data!
Did you know you can encrypt your data on Android so that even if people access your data, they won’t be able to read it?
Imagine it like gluing all of your belongings to the ground with insanely powerful superglue. Even if thieves break in, they can’t take anything! It’s kind of like that.
Encryption basically scrambles all user data so that nobody can read it. The only way you can decrypt it is with a pin code that only you know.
Warning, you must remember this code or you’ll lose all your data.
Here’s how to do it:
- Plug in the device to charge the battery (required).
- Make sure a password or PIN is set in Security > Screen lock.
- Go to Settings > Security.
- Press the “Encrypt phone” option.
- Read the notice and press “Encrypt phone” to start the encryption process.
- Remember to keep the phone plugged in until complete.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I keep my mobile data safe?
A: The best ways to keep your mobile data safe are to use strong passwords, avoid public wifi, use a VPN, and encrypt your device. If you want extra protection, use antivirus software.
Q: Is it safe to keep mobile data on?
A: Yes, in general it is safe to keep mobile data so long as you’ve taken the basic steps to secure your phone like managing permissions, using strong passwords, and avoiding apps from unknown sources. You should be more concerned about the apps on your phone than your mobile data.
Q: How do I make sure my phone is secure?
A: You can make sure your phone is secure by constantly updating your OS, securing it with a password, and checking app permissions constantly.
Q: Why is my data drained so fast?
A: Your data is being drained so fast because certain apps might be using it in the background. Often, your calendar is constantly being updated, and this drains data quickly.
Q: Can someone use your data without you knowing it?
A: Yes, they can. If someone plants a virus on your phone, they can use your data for extra processing power. It’s rare but it does happen.
Q: Should I turn off mobile data when using wifi?
A: You can turn off mobile data when using wifi but it won’t make much of a difference. Go to your settings and turn off mobile data before connecting to a wifi hotspot.