New financial services can keep you secure, or put you at risk
Tech bloggers fantasize about the days when wallets will be obsolet e— all your business cards, photos, credit cards, and ID will be stored on your smartphone.
While this can make your financial life more risky, it can actually be a more secure way to do business with the right precautions—after all, you can’t password-protect your wallet. Here are a few ways you can turn your phone into a secure financial tool.
Keep your phone password protected
If this seems like a no-brainer, you’re on the right track; increasingly, smartphones have become the main access point for our personal and financial information, and the most minimal security you can apply is password protection. It won’t interfere with your ability to accept incoming calls (although, if you really want to lock your phone up tight, you can require a PIN even to answer the phone), and it can be an effective way to keep your credit card information secure. The odds of guessing a random 4-digit PIN are 1 in 10,000, which will at least give you time to shut down your phone if it’s lost or stolen.
Of course, you should never use your bank PIN, your birthday, or digits from your Social Security number.
Change your bank password every three months
While attempts at “brute force” password guessing are rare, they happen; and they’re a lot easier to accomplish if you give identity thieves time to work on your password. By changing your password every three months, you make long-term efforts to guess your password much more difficult.
Use longer, easy-to-remember passwords
Unfortunately, much of our received wisdom on the strength of passwords is inaccurate. While including uppercase letters, numerals, and symbols can increase your password strength to some extent, the best way to strengthen your password is simply to make it longer, because each additional character in your password makes it 26 times more difficult to guess. Of course, a gibberish password of the same length will be more secure, but you’ll likely be tempted to write it down, which is the easiest way to make all that effort useless.
Keep track of all apps with which you’ve shared financial information
Have a shutdown app in case you lose your phone
There are several apps available for Android and iOS devices that allow you to remotely lock down your phone if it’s lost or stolen. You can change your password, shut down your phone, or even wipe your phone’s memory completely, with a single call. Most of these options require a security subscription, so you should weigh whether the information on your phone is sensitive enough to warrant that kind of protection; but if you’re a small-business owner with sensitive work information on your phone or tablet, it might be worth the price.
Be very careful about jailbreaking your phone
The trouble with jailbreaking phones is that it provides quite a lot of code in which malware can hide. The safest option, of course, is to leave it alone completely; but if you’re determined, here are a few tips to keep your data more secure.
- Don’t download a jailbreak from a source you don’t trust.
- To be safe, you should reset your phone to manufacturer settings before even attempting a jailbreak.
- Before allowing someone else to jailbreak your phone, make sure you know where they’re getting their code.
Shawna Davies is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has a talent for organization and helping people navigate new technology. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and teenage son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.
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