Spring temperatures and budding plants are starting to edge out the worst of the winter weather, so now is the time to spring clean … your mobile device.
The very first step is to remove apps you never use. Your phone may run slower due to these old downloads, and they may even be wasting your battery life. Don’t worry, depending on the brand of phone and where you downloaded the app, they’ll typically still be sitting there in case you decide to reinstall them.
After you’ve cleaned out the apps you don’t need, it’s time to head over to the settings menu and make sure you’re running your apps safely and efficiently. Check to see if you’ve given permission to run or refresh in the background, and turn that off for each one that doesn’t need it. If any of your apps have permission to post on social media on your behalf or to access your contacts list for some reason, it’s good practice to confirm whether they should or not.
The next step is to check out their security. Many users don’t realize that some of those great free apps you downloaded are actually privacy sponges, soaking up things like your photos or your contacts list. A report from WIRED magazine highlighted the possibility of dangerous flashlight apps; they found one that was capable of tracking your location, sending out information about you, and much more, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t mean it does these things, only that it can.
While you’re securing your device and cleaning out the virtual nooks and crannies, make sure you have a strong passcode enabled on your device. Using “1234” for example, is not recommended. Instead, your code should be an easy-to-remember combination of characters, but one that isn’t easily guessed or watched by someone standing near you. Keeping others out of your device if it’s lost or stolen can make a world of difference when it comes to protecting your identifying information, your finances, and more.
Finally, give your phone, tablet, and any headphones or styluses you use a thorough de-germing. Wipe down the outside of the case and the screen according to the manufacturer’s directions, take off the case and get into the corners where gunk can build up, and make sure your headphones are clean and in good working order.
Eva Velasquez is CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, which proudly receives financial support from CyberScout.
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