Protect your smartphone and cell phone data from hackers and thieves!

Smartphones have long since broken the 1000 euro price barrier – and that’s not the only thing that makes the devices particularly attractive to thieves. The data stored on them is also of interest to thieves. The Police Crime Prevention Service provides useful tips on how to protect your smartphone.

We store vast amounts of sensitive data on a smartphone. From photos, to contact information, to account data – for some criminals, they are just as valuable, if not more valuable than the phone itself. If it is stolen or lost, the annoyance and damage is therefore often great. Especially during the vacation season, many people report the theft of their smartphone. However, the device and data can be well protected by taking a few precautions. The police crime prevention of the states and the federal government has compiled helpful tips to protect yourself.

Avoid theft or loss

In 2020, the police in Germany registered over 83,000 pickpockets, according to Statista. If cell phones and wallets are transported in them, they are also gone. To prevent this from happening in the first place, users should pay attention to a few points on vacation as well as at home.

  • Always carry cash, smartphone and credit cards in locked inside pockets – as close to your body as possible
  • Handbags should always be carried locked on the front of the body or under the arm

According to the police, pickpockets usually work in teams of several perpetrators – and even create a crowd in order to pick the pockets of their victims, who are often women, at an inconspicuous moment.

Data protection on the smartphone

The Police Crime Prevention also calls for caution when it comes to data protection: “Precisely because smartphones and tablets make it child’s play to surf the Internet, they offer points of attack for malware or phishing.” Phishing refers to attempts to obtain sensitive data such as passwords or credit card information using fake mails or websites. The agency offers the following tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of hackers.

Tips for protection

  • Use third-party Wi-Fi networks – such as public hotspots at airports or in cafés – only with a VPN (virtual private network). This makes your Internet connection more secure against eavesdropping and manipulation. This article tells you how to set up a VPN on your cell phone.
  • If you notice the loss of your smartphone, have the SIM card blocked immediately by your mobile provider. In addition, use the lock and location services of Android or iOS.

What should I do if I lose my phone?

  • Set a PIN code for the automatic screen lock and always activate the PIN for your SIM card. “There is a misconception that the swipe code provides sufficient protection. We do not advise this!” a spokesperson for the Police Crime Prevention told atechbook.
  • Always install updates for the operating system. The updates usually include not only new functions, but also important security updates. Automatic updates can be activated in the app store – but because of the amount of data, only if WLAN is available.
  • Do not download files from unsafe sources. Only use app stores from reputable providers.
  • “What applies to the PC also applies to the smartphone: under no circumstances should you open links or files that you have received from unknown persons via Messenger,” an authority spokesperson added to atechbook.
  • If the smartphone is lost or stolen, backups are helpful. Users should therefore store photos, videos, contacts and other data online via a cloud service such as iCloud or Google Drive.
  • It can also be useful to encrypt the smartphone. This way, the data will not fall into the wrong hands if the device is lost. Newer operating systems already automatically encrypt user data to protect e-mails, contacts, photos, downloads or access data. Older smartphones, on the other hand, can be encrypted manually in the settings.

Additional tip from the atechbook editorial team: Make a note of the IMEI number of your device. You will need this for a later one with the police. You can find out what this is and where to find it here.