For some time now, most laptop and desktop computer owners have known to take common-sense precautions to protect themselves and their identities online. However, smart phones now provider hackers and similar unsavory characters an even more powerful means of stealing private data. Following these tips can help you protect yourself.

Smart phone use continues to skyrocket in today’s world, with no sign of this trend slowing any time soon. As smart phone usage for all types of purposes becomes a more and more common part of life, the risk of your personal data or even your entire identity being stolen increases as well. Keeping these tips in mind can help ensure that your Smartphone does not turn into a security risk.

#1: Set Up a Screen Lock

Most modem smart phones already include the option to lock your phone’s initial home screen. Even though a sophisticated hacker could likely find a way past a password or PIN code eventually, setting one up is a still a smart common-sense precaution that will help deter at least some threats simply by making your phone a less appealing target than one without a password or security code.

#2: Set Up Remote Phone Management

It is inevitable, unfortunately, that phones occasionally become lost or stolen. If you plan ahead for this possibility before it ever happens, you can significantly limit its consequences. Some phones include built-in tools that allow you to locate a missing phone via GPS, as well as lock it or even wipe it remotely to prevent unsavory characters from stealing your personal data. If your Smartphone does not include these options already, you can find several different high-quality apps that will do the job.

#3: Back Up Your Files

Virtually everyone today understands the importance of backing up any data stored on a personal computer, but a surprising number still forget to back up the documents, pictures and other types of data stored on their phones. Remembering to do so can be a life saver if you lose your phone, if it becomes damaged and needs factory repair or if it is stolen and you have no option but to remotely wipe it. Many modern smartphones include built-in backup utilities, but you can also install an app to handle the process for you if you prefer.

#4: Avoid Rooting or Jailbreaking

Some electronics aficionados like «rooting» or «Jailbreaking» their phones to enable functions not originally built in to the devices. The problem is that jailbroken phones frequently bypass built-in security features, leaving them significantly more vulnerable to attack from outside threats. Even if you enjoy tinkering with spare phones, leave your primary phone alone to protect your identity.

#5: Stay Off Public Wi-Fi

Connecting your Smartphone to a public Wi-Fi signal rather than its official provider network can speed up its performance while you browse the web, stream videos and so on, but doing so leaves your phone significantly more vulnerable. At the very least, stay off public Wi-Fi while performing sensitive financial transactions and the like.

#6: Avoid Risky Apps

Installing apps from unknown sources can easily lead to Anuses and other types of harmful programs being installed on your phone as well. To minimize your chances of this happening to you, only install apps from official, reputable sources, such as Apple‘s App Store or Android‘s Google Play.

#7: Clean Old Phones

Before you sell, donate or throw out an old phone, make sure you wipe any data it contains, remove any memory cards and restore it to factory settings. Otherwise, your old phone could be a goldmine for an identity thief or other unsavory character.