This was originally published on Monday, July 30, 2018, in the Pacific Daily News. Click here to subscribe to the PDN.
Your smartphone and other portable devices store a lot of personal information. Technology makes everything convenient and we are depending more on being connected through the internet.
Think about the many ways we use smartphones. We bank with them. We shop with them. We do almost everything with them.
Here are some tips to keep your information safe.
Lock your device. Most devices have a way to lock your phone. Whether it’s a PIN, password, pattern, fingerprint or face recognition, any lock is better than no lock. Set the lock time of your device to the shortest period of inactivity your phone allows.
Use security software. Some devices allow you to install anti-virus software, anti-spyware software and a firewall. These programs can protect against malware that can harm your device and compromise personal information.
Update system software. Those annoying pop-up messages that inform you to update your operating system are important. These updates include more than battery saving or better graphics; they also may have patches to fix security flaws. Many updates address bugs that could put your mobile device at risk. The same holds true for your app updates.
Installing apps. Be sure to download from official sites, such as the App Store or Google Play. Unofficial apps look just as legit but pose a risk. Before downloading an app, read what information it can access. Some will access your contacts, your GPS location and even your browsing history.
Attachments. Never click on a link or open files from someone you don’t know. If you do know them but the email seems odd, contact them to ask if it was sent by them. If it was sent by a messaging system, ask the contact that sent it what the link is for. You can also do an internet search to see if the file or link is creditable.
Wi-Fi. Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi or a public wireless network at hotels, coffee shops, libraries or airports. These areas are easy for thieves to get your information
Privacy policies. All policies should be read when doing business with an online company. They may be long and complex, but it’s worth it. Some companies will let you print the policy. If you don’t understand the policy or don’t agree with it, you may want to do business elsewhere.
Secure it. Try not keep financial records on your devices. Don’t save passwords for your bank accounts, online shopping websites or other websites where your credit card number or other personal identification is stored. There are apps for your mobile devices that can track them when they are lost or stolen. Some will even let you send a message to the device, lock it or erase all information off the device.
Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 24 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at email@example.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.