As technology rapidly advances, so does our reliance on it. Cell phones have become a common staple in everyday life with features that make communication more effortless than ever before; however, with the convenience cell phones comes a potential for danger if not used properly. With this in mind, knowing how to operate your cell phone safely and responsibly is essential.
The convenience of mobile devices also comes with risk. As you check in, text, share photos, and increasingly run your life on the go, you may inadvertently expose private information or make yourself more likely to be a victim of a crime. Here are four things you should be aware of as you use new mobile and social technology that might spare you expensive or embarrassing lessons:
1. Beware of how often you “check in” through social media.
Apps like Foursquare and websites like Facebook allow you to “check in” when you’re out and about, effectively broadcasting where you are… and where you’re not. Be especially sensitive to checking in from airports and locations far from home. Enterprising thieves can use this information to target your home or business.
2. Beware of the photos you’re sharing.
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what are your images on Facebook saying to friends, family, and co-workers? Just like checking in when you’re out of town, vacation photos posted in real time can inadvertently let people know you’re not home.
3. Remember to log out of public computers
Have you ever checked your email in an internet cafe or hotel computer? Did you remember to log out? Closing a browser window isn’t usually enough. People who open the browser can often waltz into your email account because your “session” is still active. Remember to click “log out” or “exit my account” when logging into private accounts through public machines.
4. Protect your devices
Smartphones now carry the sort of data you used to keep under lock and key in your home office or closet safe. If your devices are lost or stolen, how much of your private information could be exposed through your device?
First and foremost, add password protection to your device in case it is lost. Most have a setting you can activate that forces someone, to enter a code before accessing the device’s apps and data.
Second, consider adding an app or service to track your device via GPS if it is lost or stolen. Depending on your device, there are an array of options to help locate your smartphone if it disappears. To find an app specific to your device, try Googling (without quotation marks): “app tracks stolen [device name]” where [device name] is replaced with your brand of smartphone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.).
Hopefully, we have provided a few simple starting points for ensuring safety when using your cell phone. Of course, additional measures can be taken to prevent your data from being accessed and unauthorized usage. We would love to hear from readers about other ways to provide safety when using your cell phone. Together we can ensure increased protection for our digital lives so that we can continue to make the most of all the incredible comforts and conveniences of modern-day living with peace of mind.