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How to protect your phone from hackers

You might not realize your smartphone isn’t protected until it’s too late. Here’s how to safeguard your iPhone or Android to keep your private data safe.

6 min read

Did you know that, just like your computer, your smartphone can be hacked? Each year, millions of phones are left unprotected, making them an easy target for cybercriminals. But knowing how to protect your phone from hackers isn’t so complicated, and can save you a lot of hassle later on. Use these 5 smart tips to safeguard your phone (iPhone or Android) from criminals.

5 ways to protect your phone from hackers today

The following tips are simple, take a matter of minutes, and will protect your phone from hackers. Don’t leave your phone and your data unprotected—. Ttake a few minutes to safeguard your smartphone today!

1. Use a PIN

Whether you use a pattern, numerical code, your fingerprint, or face ID, your PIN code is the first line of defense against hackers, especially if your phone is stolen. However, if you’re not comfortable using your face or your fingerprint, using a numerical code is significantly more effective than using a pattern lock as it’s harder to hack. But, make sure the pin you choose is unique and difficult to guess. Many people opt for simple PINs such as ‘1234’ as they’re easy to remember—but that also makes them easier to hack!

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2. Download apps from the official store

According to Symantec, there is a high-risk app installed on one in 36 smartphones. Most of these malicious apps are downloaded outside of either Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store. This is because they can avoid the rigorous security measures Apple and Google use to safeguard smartphones from malware. 

Once a high-risk app is installed on your phone, a hacker can gain access to your personal data including your passwords and credit card details. The takeaway? —oOnly download your apps from Google Play or the App Store, and be sure to check their descriptions and reviews to check if they look suspicious before you download them. 

3. Keep your apps and operating system up-to-date

Not only should you only download your apps from Google Play or the App Store, but you need to make sure they’re up-to-date. Hackers can take advantage of an outdated app, finding weaknesses in its infrastructure and gaining access to your personal data. 

For a similar reason, it’s also important to keep your operating system current. These updates often contain patches for any security vulnerabilities detected in the operating code that further protects your phone from hackersbeing hacked. Though it can be annoying to wait for your phone to successfully update, doing so significantly reduces your phone’s chances of being hacked.

4. Use a VPN

If you’re planning on connecting to a public Wi-Fi network then it’s important to use a VPN. Hackers can connect to any publicly accessible Wi-Fi router and can attempt to gain access to any device that’s also using this public network. A VPN hides your connection from cybercriminals, protecting it from being hacked. However, if you can, it’s best to avoid using public Wi-Fi networks altogether. 

5. Don’t use auto-login

Though it’s convenient, if your apps are set to auto-login each time you use them, this makes them much easier to hack. If a hacker manages to access your phone and you have auto-login enabled, they can easily open all of your unprotected apps and extract any available data from them. While it’s more time-consuming, it’s much safer to manually enter your password each time you use an app on your phone instead.

How to protect your iPhone from hackers

If you want to better protect your iPhone from hackers, there are a few tips you can implement today that are slightly different from the options for Adroid users. Here’s where to start.

1. Enable ‘Find my iPhone’

If your smartphone is stolen, ‘Find my iPhone’ will send you an up-to-date location of your iPhone, giving you a better chance at retrieving it. What’s more, you can also use it to completely block access to your iPhone by switching on ‘Lost Mode.’ This means that if your phone is stolen, you can prevent it from being hacked while you track it. You can even track your phone offline if you have ‘Enable Offline Finding’ turned on. 

2. Turn Siri off

In 2020, a group of researchers uncovered a new smartphone hacking method which they named a ‘SurfingAttack.’ This hack works by sending inaudible ultrasound waves to an iPhone’s voice assistant, Siri. From here, the hackers manipulate Siri to make calls and retrieve SMS codes using the phone. They can then use these codes to gain access to a phone and, therefore, all private data. Turning Siri off prevents this type of attack from happening.

3. Set up ‘self-destruct’ mode

You can set up your iPhone to essentially self-destruct after ten failed password attempts. This will completely wipe your phone, preventing any thief from gaining access to your data if they try to access your phone too many times. To do so, simply go to ‘Settings,’ then ‘Touch ID & Passcode.’ Next, turn the ‘Erase Data’ toggle on and click ‘Enable’ once the warning screen has popped up.

How to protect your Android phone from hackers

Just like an iPhone, there are several simple methods to protect your Android phone from hackers. Take a few minutes to safeguard your Android smartphone now.

1. Lock individual apps

On Android phones, you can lock individual apps. This means that if your phone is stolen, or a hacker manages to get past your lock screen, they won’t be able to access these locked apps. Alternatively, you could consider downloading a dedicated app locking app such as Norton App Lock or AppLock - Fingerprint for an extra level of security. 

2. Turn on ‘Find my Device’

Similar to the iPhone’s ‘Find my iPhone,’ Android phones come with a ‘Find my Device’ feature that allows them to be tracked if they go missing. To enable this feature, go to ‘Settings,’ then click on ‘Google,’ ‘Security,’ then tap ‘Find my Device’ and turn it on. To track your phone, you need to go to this link and log in with your Google account to locate it.

3. Check your app permissions

While most Android apps will request access to your phone’s features such as your camera, location, or storage, not all of them do. Occasionally, some apps can gain access to sensitive data without you realizing it. So, it’s important to regularly check your app permission settings to make sure you’re not sharing more than you want to with any of these apps. To do this, simply go to ‘Settings,’ ‘Apps,’ then ‘Permissions’ of your device. Here, you need to check all of the app permissions listed in this section, especially those listed under the section labeled ‘Special access.’

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At N26, your security is our number one priority. In addition to secure login features, and our in-app support chat-bot, your money is fully protected up to €100,000 by the German Deposit Protection Scheme. Plus, with instant push notifications each time money enters or leaves your account, you can immediately spot any unauthorized transactions and lock your card in just a few taps. Enjoy a secure, fully digital banking experience. Find an account that’s right for you today. 

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