How to Stay Private in a Connected World – Part III: Secure Your Cellphone

Mobile SafetyWe were recently asked by Ottawa Victim Services for tips for staying safe and anonymous online. Follow our three part series to learn more (read Part I & Part II here)!

In many cases your cellphone is the biggest security hole you have. It allows people to track where you are at all times and in most cases keeps track all of your communications. A few ways to keep yourself private with your mobile device are:

Contact your provider, they may be watching: All major cell phone carriers have services to track your location and monitor all your communications on it. Call your carrier and make sure this service is not enabled.

Start fresh: If your phone is filled with apps I’d recommend starting with a clean setup. Work with your phone vendor or local IT provider to backup and wipe your phone out. Don’t forget to wipe any SD cards as well. Some spying apps can persist on the SD card even when the phone has been wiped.

Apps and GPS: Only install crucial applications once you’ve wiped the phone to make sure no hidden spying apps aren’t running. There are way too many “find my phone” type of applications which can allow people to know where you are. You can turn your GPS and location services off when they are not required to prevent any potential applications from reporting back your location. Here’s how to do it on an iPhone ( or Android ( device.

Secure Access to your “find my phone” webpage: Services such as iCloud and Google device manager can help you find your phone’s location if ever you lose it. On the flip side, someone with access to those pages can monitor your location and see all your text messages. Make sure to follow the basics. Reset the account with a complex password, setup two stage authentication and turn on login notifications.

Use a secure app for communication: Applications such as Wickr can be used on iPhones and Android devices to allow people to communicate securely. Simply install the application and connect with your friends. Unlike traditional text messages and email, the communications through these applications are private to your carrier and other spying apps and are eliminated once read or after a certain time period preventing people from reading your history.

Staying safe online with your Internet connected devices starts with education. The Electronic Privacy and Information Center and National Cyber Security Alliance are great resources for information on privacy and tools to protect you. Most local colleges also offer training sessions which can greatly help inform you on how to stay safe. And finally, always remember that when you’re online someone or something is always tracking you. Stop, think, then connect.

Post by Mathew Lafrance, President, Grade A

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