In this day and age, cellphones can be more valuable than your wallet when it comes to the information they contain about you.
Your personal data, including financial records, protected passwords, and private messages and photos are all often stored inside your phone.
Security consultants say hackers can steal the information you have on your phone as easily as a pickpocket poaches a wallet.
A security consultant demonstrated how easily it is to rig a charging plug in a hotel, then get into someone's smartphone and steal all the data on it.
But, unlike your wallet, protecting the information on your phone is simple. All you have to do is follow our safety tips.
1. Be Wary of Where You Plug In
Never plug your cellphone's USB cord into a device that you don't control, said Chris Clymer, a security consultant for Secure State, an Ohio security firm. If you need to charge your phone or sync it, plug it into your own laptop or another source you know you can trust.
2. Avoid Travel Trouble
If you're at the airport, don't plug your USB cord directly into a dock at a charging station. Clymer said a hacker could install a device in the stations that would allow them to instantly steal data on your phone, like your personal pictures.
Instead, avoid the risk by bringing your phone's charger and plugging it into a traditional outlet.
Another simple solution to avoid getting hacked: turn your cell phone off before you plug it into a charging station.
Clymer said you should follow the same advice if you need to charge your phone when in a rental car or at docking station in a hotel room. Turn the phone OFF while charging.
3. Keep Your Personal Information Private
"People put a lot of things into their contacts, into their phones, that they probably shouldn't," said Clymer.
He said it's not a good idea to store passwords, credit card numbers or financial information on your phone. He said there are apps and programs you can install on your phone to help protect important information.
4. Avoid Embarrassment
Along those same lines, if there are voicemails or photos you don't want anyone to see or hear, delete them. On the job, Clymer is paid to test the strength of the security on different devices. He said it's not hard for a hackers to make private pictures public.
"We've done forensic investigations before on phones and have definitely uncovered things that people don't want to be seen," he said.
As always, don't waste your money.
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