What’s the number one thing you can do to secure your phone and any data ? The answer is simple, but many smartphone owners still don’t consider this basic yet essential feature - even when it minimizes the risk of data or identity theft, loss of privacy, theft, etc. Can you guess what the answer is?
Easy - lock your screen
Before you take the time to install the latest antivirus software on your device, encrypt your data / messages and attempt a range of other complex security measures, the most important thing you should do is always set up a locking method on your lock screen. Yes, the answer really is that simple - I mean, would we lie to you about that?
You’d be surprised, however, about how many smartphone owners don’t protect their lock screen with either a PIN, pattern, fingerprint or another method, meaning the home screen can be activated by a simple swipe. Sure, you save time, especially if you are a constant phone-checker, but I cannot stress the importance of this enough.
What are the risks if you don't lock your screen
The first risk is visual hacking: if you are checking your phone in public, prying eyes could be looking over your shoulder, so it’s best to check sensitive information privately and not in a packed bus. If your phone is left somewhere unattended, someone could easily read your messages, access your banking app or other personal data. Having a lock screen would nullify this risk.
Having your phone stolen: if you lose your phone or if it is stolen, not having a lock screen or a pin for your SIM is bad news. Perpetrators use SIM readers or scanners in order to grab information from your SIM card, then use it to make phone calls. Chances are they don’t call locally, resulting in massive bills you have to pay for. Thankfully, carriers often act fast in these situations and help resolve the problem. But it is better not to risk this in the first place.
Digital identity theft: if someone gets a hold of your phone, they could do more than just place calls. They may use your social media accounts to post damaging information or worse, access credit card and social security numbers, if these happen to be in emails or saved in apps. People who fall victim to identity theft often are plagued by the issue for years, seeing as the information is continuously sold and used for other illegal activities.
How do you lock your screen?
Scared yet? Don’t be. Just set up a lock screen on your Android phone or tablet, it’s a simple thing to do that could save you a lot of grief. Every manufacturer has a slightly different setup, and some newer phones, such as the Galaxy S7, feature a fingerprint reader for extra security.
To access the lock screen settings on an Android phone, a common path would be go to your Settings, then Security and the first option is Screen lock. You can then set up a pattern, PIN or password. The pattern can also be made invisible, as opposed to showing the grid of dots. Furthermore, you can decide how quickly your phone automatically locks. Some other good available features are the ability to encrypt your phone, set up a SIM card lock and Android Device Manager, the latter allowing you to lock or erase a lost or stolen device remotely via a web browser.
Hardware encryption: how does it help?
When you set up your screen lock, such as entering a password, a PIN or a pattern for unlocking, the setup assistant asks you a very important question: Do you want to activate "Secure start-up"? This provides an additional level of protection for your phone's internal memory.
Admittedly, the system does have a few downsides. If at anytime you need to restart your smartphone, you must enter the code early on in the start process as if you don't it will block the home screen and essentials like the alarm clock won't start. Even if you go to bed with your smartphone is switched on and your alarm set you won't be woken up.
Nevertheless, it is an important protection as any thieves who manage to steal your phone will have a harder time resetting the device. Because the standard degree of Android encryption receives an additional level of encryption, this ensures that both your data and overall device are better protected. Even professional methods to reset the device or change the firmware become considerably more complicated.
Do you use a lock screen? What are other things you can do to protect your phone and its contents? Let us know in the comments below.