Protecting your data doesn't begin and end with your computer. It's important to focus on security with your mobile devices as well. Hackers are not limited to infiltrating computer systems, and it is getting easier for them to access your cell phone through WiFi connections, downloadable applications, and straight-up phone theft. We've gathered some of the most useful tips to protect your device's data. 

Avoid Public Wifi Networks

When outside your home or office, be wary of connecting to WiFi networks. When you are connected to free WiFi networks (like those at Starbucks, Target, or the mall), you are risking your mobile security. Hackers can use public, unencrypted WiFi networks to intercept the information you are entering into your phone. Accessing your bank account via a public WiFi network is particularly dangerous. So, turn off your Wifi connectivity when you’re out, and only turn it back on when you know you’re connecting to a secure network.

Watch the Apps you Download

Third party applications (apps not created by your phone’s manufacturer (Apple, Microsoft, or Google)) can be dangerous. They often require extensive and unnecessary access to your phone’s data. Be careful when downloading and using these applications, and if something seems fishy about the permissions they request, don’t continue the installation. It’s a good idea to checks the ratings and reviews of an app before you download it: chances are, if there are consequences of downloading the app, someone else has already discovered it.

Turn Off Autofill

Your phone likely automatically saves passwords for your most used websites. This feature is done through autofill, and it’s not great for your device’s security. On Apple devices, you can go to your phone’s settings and turn autofill to OFF. On Android devices, you need to do this through the browser’s (Chrome) settings. Either way, it’s important to turn off autofill so that if your phone is ever stolen, the thief or hacker does not have easy access to your passwords.

Lock Your Phone

Phones are easily misplaced and stolen. It is important to turn on device authentication so that your private information is not made available to thieves. Most smartphones come with a few different authentication options: a 4 or 5 digit code, a 5 dot pattern, a password, and, in some cases, fingerprint scanning. If your phone contains extra sensitive information (work-related patient or client information, for example), it is possible to turn on a feature that will allow you to wipe the contents of your phone from a computer if your phone turns up missing.

Be Careful with Bluetooth

Bluetooth is used to connect your smartphone to everything from your headset to your car to your home sound system. However, like with public WiFi networks, hackers can piggyback onto Bluetooth connectivity and gather information from your phone. Switch this off when you’re not using it to protect yourself from hackers in the area.

BOLO for Viruses

It is difficult to download viruses onto mobile devices. Unlike with computers, you cannot get a virus through opening an email attachment. Instead, you have to download viruses from applications in the iTunes or Google Play stores. Infected applications are typically discovered quickly and removed from the stores. Therefore, it’s not really necessary to install antivirus software on your phones just yet (these are likely applications trying to squeeze money out of you). However, it is important to pay attention to this subject because hackers are getting smarter and it is only a matter of time before mobile antivirus software is a necessity.