Smartphones have taken our personal lives to a whole new level. You either are afraid of what the implications of this are, or you are not yet fully aware of what you should be worried about in the first place. Either way, it’s time to get serious about privacy if we’re going to put our own private information on our phones. Unlike its predecessor, the smartphone is a device that literally can contain every single facet of your identity without running out of space. Chances are you have a social media account connected to your phone, which makes matters worse. How do you protect all of this?
1: Get a Privacy Screen Protector
Think about it: You take your phone with you every day, occasionally taking it out (in public, no less) to check up on a notification. Each person around you has a pair of eyes, and some of them might be snooping in your direction. Since the keyboard is on the screen, it’s relatively easy to see someone type his account passwords just by looking over his shoulder. A privacy screen protector will be the best investment you can make in this case. Such a contraption will work just like any normal screen protector, but it will limit the phone’s viewing angle, making it appear completely blank unless you hold the phone towards your face. Here’s an example from Zagg, for the iPhone 4/4S.
You might get a bit bothered by the limitations this method presents, but in the end, it’s your decision whether you want to do this or not. Don’t feel bad if you don’t. I certainly can’t do this because I use my phone in situations where the viewing angle is less than ideal.
2: Encrypt Your SMS/MMS Traffic
In another mobile privacy post, my colleague, Bertel King, Jr., wrote about SMS encryption (at the fourth heading, if you want to find it quickly). In his article, he mentions apps for both iOS and Android.
So, why would you want to encrypt your SMS transmissions? Well, it’s not exactly a reliable form of communication. Since there’s no end-to-end encryption, it’s easy to intercept. Speaking of which…
3: Use a VPN
Either create your own virtual private network (VPN), or use a public one that has end-to-end encryption, if you don’t want all of your data to be siphoned from your phone at any moment. Hotspot Shield is your best bet to get something like this done. You can use it in both iOS and Android.
When you use a Wi-Fi connection, it’s as if though you were communicating through a CB radio (the kind that truck drivers use). This means that anyone “tuning in” on the line can sniff out what you’re sending and receiving. It’s an awful predicament. And if the connection is encrypted with WPA/WPA2, that doesn’t really mean much if you’re around a bunch of strangers connected to the same line. It only means something if you’re using a private connection in your own home. VPN helps solve this issue by encrypting all transmitted and received packets then sending it to a proxy of sorts. If you don’t feel like using a VPN, just ensure that you don’t use any non-encrypted apps and visit websites only with “https://” before the URL.
4: Don’t Let Others Use Your Phone!
It’s difficult to express exactly how many times I’ve seen people make this mistake. They give their phone to someone temporarily, completely oblivious of the fact that their personal information is now in this person’s hands. Do not do this with people you wouldn’t trust your life with.
You may have seen that these points revolve around a simple principle: Keep your phone as far away as possible from prying eyes and make it as difficult as possible for anything you send or receive to be intercepted. If you have something else to add along these lines, feel free to leave a comment below on the matter!