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Smartphones today store everything from our online passwords to our credit card numbers. That’s why more than ever it’s important we keep them secure.

Make use of the lock screen, and select a sufficiently secure password. This will make it more difficult for others to access your phone without your consent.

Using your fingerprint to unlock your device does little to increase your security. A fingerprint can easily be cloned from as little as a picture of your thumb and used to unlock your phone. And while you cannot legally be forced to reveal your password in most jurisdictions, taking your fingerprint to unlock your phone without your consent is perfectly legal.

Encrypt your drive

Apple started to encrypt hard drives by default since the iOS 8. This greatly improves protection for the owner from arbitrary searches and from having your personal data abused after losing the device.

Android also offers a feature for the user to encrypt the drive; however, this has to be activated by the user. Although Google announced such encryption by default in 2014, the requirements were quietly removed later on.

You can find the option to encrypt your device in your settings.

While not particularly easy, it is possible to extract your personal information from your phone without your consent if you do not encrypt your drive, and law enforcement routinely unlocks these phones with the help of Google, even in cases as minor as drug offenses.

Choose a good password

While both Apple and Google take measures to protect your encrypted data from hackers by limiting the number of times a wrong password can be entered per minute, or by erasing the drive after a few failed attempts, having a strong password is the best protection.

Pick a password that has at least 12 characters, or use our random password generator. Also be sure to add a mix of numbers as well as uppercase and lowercase characters. Alternatively, use Diceware to generate a password that consists of four to five words.

Further reading

Learn more about the dangers of mobile Wi-Fi with these articles:

  • What Information Passes Through Your Mobile Networks
  • Mobile Settings That Affect Your Privacy
  • How Charging Your Cell Phone Exposes It to Risks
  • The Dangers from Triangulating Your Location, Intercepting Calls, SMS
  • How to Secure Your Mobile Apps
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