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Securing personal smartphone more important than ever

New studies by Pew Research show more than 80% of U.S. adults now own smartphones. A growing proportion – 37% – access the internet primarily through their devices.

Smartphones have made life easier not only for users, but also for corporations wanting to learn more about your everyday habits and for bad actors wanting to steal sensitive information.

Here are some steps users can take to secure their personal smartphones and protect their privacy:

Enable 'Do Not Track' in your smartphone web browser: The Do Not Track option asks websites to not collect your data. The websites are not required to honor the request, but some will.

Consider using a virtual private network, (VPN): A VPN allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the internet. Use a VPN service that encrypts all data for increased anonymity. 

Do not use public Wi-Fi: Unprotected public Wi-Fi can expose your phone and data to bad actors. Never conduct sensitive business on an unprotected public network. If you must use public Wi-Fi, use a VPN app to encrypt your traffic.

Avoid spam calls: Many telemarketers will call phones just to see if someone answers. The list is then sold to other companies, which can lead to more spam calls and even text messages. Caller ID can help determine who is calling. There also are many apps that will automatically block spam calls.

Turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS when not needed: Leaving these features on all the time not only will drain your battery, it also allows your movements to be tracked and poses other security risks.

Update your phone’s apps and operating system: Doing this will help fix known security flaws in your phone’s operating system and installed apps.

Add owner contact info to your device: If you leave your phone behind at a restaurant or lose it somewhere, including contact information such as a first name and phone number for a family member or friend would allow anyone who finds it to return the device.

Backup your smartphone: Backing up your phone will allow you to restore your personal data even if it is lost or stolen.