How to Set Up Your Mobile Device Security

Be safe, no matter where you are

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As with any computer, security should be a primary concern when using your mobile device. Whether you are running an iOS device, such as an iPhone or iPad, or an Android device, such as a Samsung Galaxy or a Google Pixel, there are steps you can take to secure your experience. Begin by following our comprehensive guide below to ensure that both your mobile device and your digital life stay private.

Install Mobile Device System Updates

A manufacturer doesn't release updates only to introduce new features to a platform. In many situations, Android and iOS updates are provided to help eliminate security flaws that may have been discovered. Ensuring that your mobile device stays up to date with the latest available software is a vital step in securing your online privacy and your digital life.

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System Updates on iOS

If you're running a device with iOS, such as an Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, follow these steps to ensure that your device is up to date with the latest available software.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and select the General option.
  3. Select Software Update.
  4. iOS will check for updates, presenting you with the option to install any updates if available. Otherwise, you will be given a message saying Your software is up to date.

System Updates on Android

If you're running a device with Android, such as a Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel, follow these steps to ensure that your device is up to date with the latest available software.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select the About phone option.
  3. Select Software update.
  4. Android will check for updates, presenting you with the option to install any updates if available. Otherwise, you will be given a message notifying you that your device is already up to date.

Enable Mobile Device Passcodes

Adding a passcode to your devices requires that a password is entered before being able to use your phone or tablet after a specified amount of time. Thus, if you leave your mobile device behind, you can rest confident that just anyone won't be able to unlock and use your device.

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Some devices allow you to add alternative ways to authenticate with your devices such as fingerprint scanning and facial recognition.

Passcodes on iOS

If you're running a device with iOS, such as an Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, follow these steps to add a passcode to help secure your device.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and select the Face ID & Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode option in the list.
  3. Tap Turn Passcode On.
  4. Enter a six-digital number as your passcode.
  5. Enter your passcode once more to confirm.

Passcodes on Android

If you're running a device with Android, such as a Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel, follow these steps to add a passcode to help secure your device.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and select Security or Security and Screen Lock.
  3. Select the Screen Lock option.
  4. Select the PIN option.
  5. Enter a four-digital number as your passcode.
  6. Enter your passcode once more to confirm.

Review Application Permissions

On both Android and iOS devices, you can view and limit how much access to information specific applications are granted — this can include access to your contacts, text messages, photo library, or even your device's camera, microphone, and GPS.

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Permissions on iOS

If you're running a device with iOS, such as an Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, follow these steps to check what permissions applications currently have and how to limit them.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and select the Privacy option in the list.
  3. Select the privacy aspect you wish to inspect such as Photos or Microphone — you will be shown all applications that are granted access to the selected aspect.
  4. To allow an application to access the aspect, ensure the toggle switch is on (green), otherwise, to restrict access, ensure the toggle switch is off (grey).

Permissions on Android

If you're running a device with Android, such as a Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel, follow these steps to check what permissions applications currently have and how to limit them.

When installing new Android apps, your device will always first ask you about the permissions the application is requesting — review these requests to stay secure.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select Apps or Application Manager.
  3. Tap Permissions or App Permissions.
  4. Select the privacy aspect you wish to inspect such as SMS or Microphone — you will be shown all applications that are granted access to the selected aspect.
  5. To allow an application to access the aspect, ensure the toggle switch is on, otherwise, to restrict access, ensure the toggle switch is off.

Enable Loss Prevention

One of the riskiest aspects of carrying around a mobile device with your personal information is the fact that you may misplace or lose the device. Luckily, both Android and iOS include built-in loss prevention options to help you find your device after it is misplaced or left behind.

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Loss Prevention on iOS

If you're running a device with iOS, such as an Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, follow these steps to enable the Find My iPhone function. In the case of loss, you can then locate your device by visiting iCloud.com.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. At the top of the screen, tap on your name to access your iCloud account.
  3. Select the iCloud option.
  4. Scroll down to the Find My iPhone option.
  5. Ensure both the Find My iPhone and Send Last Location toggles are set to the on position (green).

Loss Prevention on Android

If you're running a device with Android, such as a Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel, follow these steps to enable the Find My Device function. In the case of loss, you can then locate your device by visiting android.com/find.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select Security & Location.
  3. Select Find My Device.
  4. Ensure that Find My Device is turned on.

Download Only From Trusted Sources

This bit of advice doesn't require any changes to your device, but rather to your own personal habits. For users on iOS devices, the only available place to download an app (without jailbreaking the phone) is from the App Store; however, it's not the same story on Android. If you use an Android device, it is critical that you only download apps from trusted sources.

The primary reliable source you will likely download your Android apps from is the Google Play Store — it is monitored by the team at Google for malware and other malicious tricks. Additionally, the Amazon App Store is a great alternative to Google's primary store as it monitored by the team at Amazon. When browsing the internet, never download an application unless you explicitly trust the source, or you may be downloading malware along with your new game.

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Use a VPN for Public Wi-Fi

Over the years, public Wi-Fi has become more secure, but it is still possible that individuals could be snooping in on your data, seeing the websites you visit and even intercepting passwords from less secure connections. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) ensures that your connection remains encrypted and secure. For more information on VPNs, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide.