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For better or worse, we are practically “married” to our phone these days. It goes everywhere we go. It has access to our most private conversations and key financial data. It holds some of our most precious memories, in the form of pictures, sound recordings and video.

And yet, there are those who would use it to rob and manipulate you. And they’re getting more and more clever each day at penetrating your defenses.

So how do you protect your phone and yourself from vicious attack by these cybercriminals?

Here’s a basic checklist to keep you and your “beloved” safe.

  1. Keep your phone with you at all times. Remember, if somebody swipes it:
    • It can be used to access your money, or steal your identity.
    • Someone can pose as you on your social media accounts.
    • A thief can use your SIM card to rack up phone bills.
  2. Keep your phone secure.
    • Set a secure entry password.
    • Update your phone’s operating system as soon as updates become available.
    • Turn Bluetooth off when you’re not using it and avoid using it in crowded areas.
    • Only use encrypted WiFi networks that require a password, and set your phone to not automatically connect to new networks.
    • Enable remote geo-tracking and the lock and wipe functions. These will allow you to locate your phone if misplaced. You’ll also be able to lock the screen and wipe the data if the phone is stolen. Just be aware that geo-tracking may enable others to pinpoint your location.
  3. Keep your data secure.
    • Back up your data regularly.
    • Don’t save passwords or PINs on your phone.
    • Avoid online banking in public or crowded areas. Strangers may be able to look over your shoulder.
  4. Use apps safely.
    • Apps can transmit personal data. Select permissions carefully when you install them.
    • Always source apps from trusted providers and check feedback from other users.
    • If you’re not sure why an app needs access to your contacts, calls, photos or location, see if you can find a comparable app that doesn’t require that access.
  5. Be selective about how and where you use your phone.
    • Stick with trusted webs sites and apps when you download anything.
    • Never download content from an unknown source or one you can’t verify.
    • Turn GPS off when you’re not using it. Your location can be tracked if you have it turned on.
    • Log out of web sites when you are done using them.
    • Especially with e-mail – THINK before you click. Hackers are getting very clever at creating authentic looking e-mails. One false click could unleash malicious code allowing them access to all your personal data.

Keep these tips in mind to keep yourself out of harm’s way — and to enjoy all the great things you love about your phone.

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