What Else Can I Do to Help Protect my Data on a Mobile Phone?

Apps like WaveSecure can give you an extra layer of security by providing the facility to lock down your lost or stolen phone, erase the SD card or remove certain permissions. They can also help locate your phone and then restore much of its contents if recovered. WaveSecure costs $20 for a yearly subscription (although the app itself is free), but if you’re only after one or two of its features (the ability to locate your phone via GPS, for example) you can probably find them more cheaply in another app or as part of a mobile anti-virus suite such as Lookout.

What Else Can I Do to Help Protect my Data on a Mobile Phone?

However, the best way to keep sensitive data safe is to keep it somewhere other than your phone: on your home computer or backed up to a remote server.

Should I be worried about the kinds of information I’m sharing from my phone?

As with any device that connects to the Internet, it’s worth paying close attention to which elements of your online presence are being shared beyond your real-life social circle. Facebook, Twitter and other social networking services make it very tempting to update the world with anything from where you’re staying on holiday to your innermost thoughts. You can amend the privacy settings so that only your friends and family can see anything but the most basic details; but it’s still safest to assume that anything you share online is accessible to far more people than you’d expect, perhaps including exes, future employers and cybercriminals. All of this is even more important if using your phone to connect with GPS-enabled social networking services like Foursquare, as anyone resourceful enough can use a service like this as a springboard for accessing any information about you that’s publicly available, as well as to track your location with the same degree of accuracy as your own phone can.

Tip: Bluetooth can be used to transmit data between your phone and other devices up to around 30 feet away, so unless you’re actively using it, switch it off (this will save battery power, too).

How can I be sure my personal information is deleted when I sell my old phone?

It’s worth considering what kinds of personal data your phone may still contain if you decide to donate, sell or throw it out at some point in favor of a newer model. You’ll probably want to wipe certain information, but unfortunately it’s a little more complicated than selecting files and telling the phone to delete them. Deleting files in this way only reallocates the space they occupy as empty — ready to be overwritten if that space is needed — but the files themselves are still there and can be recovered using the right tools.
It is possible to permanently erase sensitive data so that it’s rendered unrecoverable. Check to see if there are instructions in your phone’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website.

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