If you’re like billions of other people in the world using a smartphone daily, there is a good chance you have a vast amount of personal information accumulated on your mobile device from texting, social media, video calls and other personal activities. Like a computer, your smartphone is vulnerable to hackers, scammers, identify thieves and other cybercriminals eager to steal sensitive information. Protect your privacy and your peace of mind with these easy tips.

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  • Lock your device with a passcode or other security feature. This is an important first layer of security that can help prevent anyone who picks up your phone from accessing your apps and data. Set a passcode that only you know, and type it in whenever you need to unlock and use your phone. If it is available on your device, you can also set up biometric security, such as “Touch ID,” which unlocks your phone with your fingerprint, or “Face ID,” which unlocks your phone with facial recognition.
  • Activate the “auto-lock” or “time out” feature in your settings. For additional protection, go to your phone’s settings to enable the “auto-lock” or “time out” feature, which automatically locks your phone after a designated amount of idle time. Set the feature to start after a relatively brief period of inactivity.
  • Avoid downloading apps from untrusted sources. To reduce the chances of installing a malicious app or malware, only buy or download apps from well-known stores, such as the official app stores of your phone manufacturer or cellular service provider. They maintain a vetting process intended to weed out malicious apps and malware.
  • Keep your device’s operating system and apps updated. These device updates provide fixes for security weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals prey on your device’s known flaws, so consider setting up your phone to update automatically to ensure it has the latest fixes.
  • Use mobile security software to protect your device. Features provided by mobile device security software vary significantly, and may include anti-malware detection, anti-theft protection or weak privacy settings detection. Compare and select products carefully to enjoy additional protection for your personal information.
  • Back up your data. It is a good practice to regularly backup your phone to a computer, cloud or back-up service, which may be offered by your phone’s carrier. This provides peace of mind knowing you have all your important information safeguarded in case your device is lost or stolen, or suddenly stops working altogether.
  • Enable remote wiping of data from your device. Should the unthinkable happen and your phone is lost or stolen, a “remote wipe” allows you to remotely wipe out all of your personal data from your phone’s memory. If your device is backed up, you can restore the information on a new device or back onto the original device once it is recovered. Your phone manufacturer should have more information on how to erase your device, and there are many reputable apps that can enable remote wiping.

Smartphones are a fun, exciting technology that can make life easier, but also come with their share of risk. These tips can help you keep your data secure while conveniently managing what is essentially a computer in the palm of your hand. To learn more about safely using smartphones and other devices, go to the Federal Trade Commission’s online security web page*.

Links marked with a * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.