ESET shares tips on keeping your smart phone safe

As people become more sensitive about the privacy and security of their data, Canadians across the country are looking for ways to up their personal security.

One personal device where security features often get overlooked is personal cell phones. Whether because we always have them close by or think it “will never happen to me,“ Canadians are leaving themselves exposed to security risks on their phones. 

To help protect your mobile security, ESET, a world-leader in cybersecurity, offers the following lock screen options for protecting your phone. 

  • Pattern Lock — A pattern lock, as the name suggests, requires the owner to enter a specific pattern that they came up with to unlock their device. As far as screen lock choices go, pattern locks could be considered a medium-level security option at best. Your finger squiggle could be as easy as drawing an L or you could make the pattern more difficult by drawing a sophisticated shape. The simpler the pattern is, the easier it is for lurkers to copy it if they are watching over your shoulder. 

In fact, research found that lurkers were successful in recreating the swipe pattern 64.2% of the time after looking at it once; with multiple observations, that risk rises. You can improve your security by turning off feedback lines and opting for a more sophisticated pattern. 

  • PIN / Password — If you’ve been smart and set up any protection at all on your devices, you’re probably familiar with the PIN lock/password option, because it is the code your SIM card asks you to enter whenever you turn your phone off and on. Many Android versions will allow you to set a paltry four-digit code, but if you care about your security, you will choose a much longer PIN code. 

If you want to up your lock game, you should probably opt for a password that incorporates letters, numbers and special characters and make it at least eight characters long. It may be a bit harder to remember and type out, but in the long run you’ll be glad you played it safe. If you really want to up the ante, you can also turn on the feature to wipe your phone after a number of failed login attempts.

  • Fingerprint Biometric Lock — Fortunately for some of us, fingerprint biometric locks are still a thing. You may encounter different varieties, with some being standalone locks, others incorporated into buttons and the latest development are the ones hidden in the smartphone screen. The case for these is that the fingerprint lock can be one of the fastest ways to secure your phone. By placing your finger on the reader, your phone will unlock within a fraction of a second. 

But is it foolproof? Well, where regular people are concerned it is highly doubtful that a bad actor would go through the ordeal of trying to get through a biometric lock. Still, bypassing a fingerprint lock isn’t entirely impossible. Fingerprints can be stolen from photos and other sources, then recreated, even with just 2D printing.

  • Face Scan — This biometric lock does exactly what it says: it scans your face. Although you’d imagine that the process is fairly sophisticated and entails a large number of technological wonders, the truth is it basically relies on your front camera and some software. The camera scans an image of your face and then relies on a facial recognition algorithm to verify your face. The speed of the unlock also depends on your phone and the quality of its front-facing camera. 

There is quite a variety of lock options to choose from. It is always wise to choose a combination of features and not rely on just one. The safest two-step combination is a trusty PIN or password of sufficient length, with a fingerprint scan coming in next. Whichever option you choose, it’s always smart to plan ahead. Securing your phone now might save you from a nasty headache in the future.

For more tips, please visit welivesecurity.com

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