Most people these days have at the very least a vague awareness of cyber-crime and the need to do a few things to protect themselves from it. I would say with some confidence that there aren’t too many PCs and Laptops out there these days which aren’t at least running an anti-virus programme and a firewall.
But astonishingly, there is still a huge number of people who are blissfully aware that their smartphone is just as vulnerable to attack as their laptop is. Even though smartphone use has exploded in recent years, and for many people it is the main tool we use to get online these days, far too many people are still running a device with zero security features operating on it.
It is certainly not for the lack of securing apps and programmes for them to choose from. A quick look through the App store on your iPhone or Android phone will turn up literally hundreds of different apps which purport to keep your smartphone safe and secure. But as with so many apps, the $64,000 question is, are they actually any good?
As a cyber-security expert I have trailed a fair few of them in my time, and working in the industry has given me an inside track on which are worth bothering with, and which are best left alone.
Convincing the general public of the need to secure their smartphone is a slow-burning target, but if you are reading this I reckon you are away of the need, and just want some tips on the best way to do it. Well I am happy to help, so here is my rundown of the top 4 apps to secure your smartphone in 2016:
You would be astonished if I told you the number of people who had actually said to me, “Do I need an anti-virus programme on my smartphone as well?”
Yes, you do, and the pick of the bunch on the market right now is 360 Security. You will come across apps from more established anti-virus names, and most of them will do a reasonable job for you, but 360 Security for me is the complete package.
It offers real-time protection against viruses, Trojans, and malware. It has privacy functions to help you protect private messages and contact lists. And it also has a filter service for both calls and SMSs.
That alone gives it more features than most of its competitors, but there is more. They also offer a ‘Boost’ feature which allows you to manage your phones memory to make sure it is running optimally. And there is also a cleaning function to assist in the removal of unwanted apps.
360 Security is a complete anti-virus tool and if you download just one this year, make it this one.
Many people tend to download an anti-virus programme and leave it at that. But there is a lot to be said for getting a Mobile Security app as well. And my pick of these is Lookout Mobile Security.
It is an all-in-one security app which is able to help users locate a lost smartphone. It allows you to remotely sound an alarm on your phone, and also display a message on the screen indicating the phone is lost and giving your contact details.
It also enables you to call the device from your laptop, and backup important data such as contacts and photos, and transfer them to another device if necessary.
It’s is one of those apps you won’t value until you need it, but it is well worth downloading for the additional peace of mind it beings.
Everyone hates having to remember passwords. And these days we all have so many of them to contend with too. Plus, we are always being told to make them more and more complex, and to keep changing them too. Keeping track of them all is all but impossible.
Unless that is, you use a Password Manager such as KeyPassX. A Password Manager is a bit of kit which securely stores all your passwords and allows you to access them via a single password, which is all you have to remember.
The pick of the bunch at the moment for me is KeypassX. It’s a piece of open source software linked to Keypass, which is available to use on your PC or laptop. It is free, but does the job better than most of its rivals, although it isn’t the most user friendly bit of software when you first look at it.
But once you master it, you will wonder how you ever did without it.
- A VPN:
A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is a tool which allows you to connect to the internet via an encrypted link to an external server. There are a number of perks to using a VPN, which makes them an essential tool.
Firstly, with a VPN you are virtually anonymous online, and there is no way to trace your internet activity back to you. Secondly, it adds a valuable extra level of security to your connection, allowing you to use even public Wi-Fi connections safely, and helping to keep your personal details safe from prying eyes.
But it also allows you to access geo-restricted content and services too, and if you are unfortunate enough to live somewhere where the government censors the internet, a VPN can help you get round that too.
I haven’t chosen a specific VPN to recommend, because the best one for you will depend on where you are and what you will use it for, but there are plenty of sites you can turn to for reviews and advice.