Concerned about your online privacy? Here’s how to keep your smartphone safe

Our smartphones have become our go-to payment choice, personal trainer, virtual assistant, and social media-checking machines. We use them to do just about anything, from online banking to communicating with friends and booking the next vacation. 

But what many people forget is that, in the hands of the wrong people, your smartphone can become one of the most complex and advanced surveillance devices out there. Using your phone as a centralized source to store all your sensitive information has its advantages, but with great power comes great responsibility. This means you need to take extra measures to ensure your mobile security. 

We won’t tell you to use a strong password and never divulge it, because that’s already implied, but below are some simple steps you can take to add another layer of protection to your mobile device. 

Woman Using Smartphone in Bed

Stick to the options on the App Store

Some phones, mainly those who use Android as their operating system, allow you to install programs outside of the app store. It is possible to do so on iPhones as well, but not without using a jailbreaking app. However, even if you can, it does not mean you should go on installing every app you can find online. 

The apps on your phone’s app store have to follow some security protocols designed to protect users against malware. And, although they do not provide the ultimate level of privacy, app stores do review content before adding it to their library, so you can safely download them to your device. 

Install a VPN and a security app

Just as you won’t let your computer run without an antivirus, you shouldn’t let your phone do so either. Not many people are used to installing a security app on their phone, but there are many reasons you need to do so to maintain online security.  

Besides a security app, your phone should also have a VPN installed to protect sensitive data that you need to access online. And no, VPNs are not for hackers or those who have something to hide; they are for anyone who cares about their online privacy. And don’t go on believing latest-generation smartphones don’t need a VPN. Even your new OnePlus phone should have a VPN installed as soon as you set it up. 

Limit what information your apps can access

Whenever you install an app, your phone will require permission to give this new app access to certain information. This includes location, camera, photos, contacts, and email addresses, among others. Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to use an app without giving it permission to access some of these details, but that does not mean you should agree to suspicious access terms. Some apps can use your permission to collect and then sell information to advertisers or third parties, so pay attention if they ask for more access than necessary. If a photo editing app, for example, asks permission to access your contacts or GPS, you may want to think again before agreeing.

Chung Nguyen

Chung is a seasoned business journalist with a focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. With over 15 years of experience covering the world of finance and economics, Rachel has established herself as a respected authority on responsible business practices. Throughout her career, Chung has interviewed some of the most influential leaders in the corporate world and has covered major business events such as the World Economic Forum and the United Nations Climate Change Conference. She is also a regular contributor to leading business publications and has won several awards for her work. Chung's passion for promoting sustainable business practices has also led her to author a book on the topic.